Post Office clarifies Sassa's request for CPS extension

Cape Town - SA Post Office (SAPO) COO Lindiwe Kwele has told Parliament that it is not accurate that Sassa had asked the Constitutional Court to allow CPS to maintain control over the social grants scheme for another six months.

Kwele was responding to MPs in Parliament on Tuesday on the South African Social Security Agency's (Sassa's) Constitutional Court application, filed last week, to extend the invalid contract with CPS.

READ: CPS seeks ConCourt permission to apply for future Sassa tenders

Sassa approached the court on the basis that it would not have enough time for the Post Office to run the system independently.

Kwele assured MPs that the Post Office would still take control of the scheme in principle, come April 1 this year, and the original terms of the CPS contract would be terminated.

The application, rather, was to ask for CPS to continue to aid in a phase-in-phase-out process for a further six months until September 30, and to act in a supporting role.

"The inter-ministerial committee (IMC) has not agreed [to] an extension [of the CPS contract]. Instead we are dealing with a termination issue of the original contract," Kwele said.

READ: Sassa affidavit: 2.5 million grant recipients don't have IDs to access grants

"In terms of the contract clauses, there should have been a clause for a phase-in- phase-out process. That was not clearly defined in the original contract.

"I can't speak on behalf of Sassa on that regard, but we know for any major project there must be a close-out process."

The approach to the court was meant to ask for that, to allow CPS to help with the live transition for a further six months, she said.

New 'work stream' appointed

SAPO also confirmed Sassa finally signed off on technical specifications for SAPO to open its special disbursement account for the grants scheme, following a delay since January 15.

MPs also heard that Sassa had appointed a new work stream on January 30 to advise on the process.

"That, for us, was a serious risk. We already went through the process and specifications, which Sassa [then] had not signed on," Postbank's Hannes van der Merwe said.

"By appointing this team, it was quite possible that they would come back and change the specifications. We are already pressed for time, inhumanly so."

The only issue that can derail the process is if Sassa said SAPO's functionality was not acceptable come April 1, he continued.

"It's in our plans, we can open a special disbursement account right now. We just want it to be ring-fenced," he said.

CPS files to the Constitutional Court

SAPO was on course to take over the scheme in principal on April 1, with CPS possibly aiding in a phase-out role, pending the Constitutional Court application.

Kwele also announced that CPS had filed an application seeking to extend their contract indefinitely, over and above the Sassa request for extension.

The Constitutional Court however, could not confirm if those papers had been filed yet, as of Tuesday.

CPS was given until 12:00 on Tuesday to file a 10-page submission on why it should be allowed to continue to tender for Sassa services.

Sassa and the Post Office have six weeks and four days to migrate full control of core aspects of the grants scheme to the Post Office.