Sassa meets deadline to file grants plan to ConCourt

Cape Town – The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has adhered to the Constitutional Court's directive to file its full social grants plan by 16:00 on Friday.

Last month, the court gave Sassa until Friday, December 8, to deliver its full plan to the court, after Parliament had heard that a hybrid model had been approved and an "implementation protocol" was signed with the South African Post Office.

Constitutional Court spokesperson Nathi Mncube confirmed on Friday that Sassa had filed the hard copies of the agency's reports, which will now be distributed to the judges.

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Mncube said he could not comment further as the court still needed to look at the submissions.

Details have been scant over how Sassa plans to migrate the full grants scheme, currently handled by invalid service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), by April 1, 2018.

The court wanted Sassa's plan to "specify matters such as definite roles and responsibilities, precise timelines, dependencies, desired outcomes and risk-mitigation measures".

The agency also needed to warn the court by the December 8 deadline if Sassa's contingency plan could not be realised before the April 2018 deadline.

The inter-ministerial committee (IMC) handling the negotiations will be holding a press conference on Sunday on the matter.

Report on feasibility of alternative scheme

During the meeting in Parliament last month, the IMC said the preliminary agreement with the Post Office would give it the chance to partially provide core banking functions for a new grants scheme.

The functions, however, were all subject to the Post Office and its banking subsidiary, Postbank, being able to deliver the above with "cost effectiveness".

The report filed on Friday should specify the details of that deal.

The Post Office would by no means be the sole distributor of a new grants scheme, as talks to bring all commercial banks on board were ongoing with the Banking Association of South Africa.

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This would include incumbent banking service provider Grindrod Bank, which currently handles the banking functions for more than 10 million beneficiaries.

In an unrelated directive, the court also asked Sassa to indicate whether an alternative payment scheme, recently suggested by its expert panel, is feasible.

The scheme would rely on South Africa's well-developed and regulated electronic payment systems, which account for 80% of all social grant transactions currently.

The deadline for this report is December 18.