News / South Africa

Gosebo Mathope
3 minute read
31 Oct 2017
2:25 pm

Sassa and Sapo executives ordered to meet each other halfway by 6pm tomorrow

Gosebo Mathope

MPs sent both entities back to the negotiating table, with some asking for the Hawks' attendance in the deliberations and a parliamentary inquiry into the debacle.

ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini. Photo: GCIS

Ruth Bhengu, the acting CEO of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), and Mark Barnes, the CEO of the South African Post Office (Sapo), have just more than 24 hours to salvage what appears to have been collapsed talks between the two institutions.

After earlier announcements by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini that she has wiped a possible deal off the table due to disagreements and a noncommittal approach from Sapo, parliamentarians earlier today told the two state-owned entities to find a solution.

In a heated joint meeting of the portfolio committee on social development, chaired by Zoleka Capa, and the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), chaired by Themba Godi, convened after Dlamini announced she would reopen the tender process, MPs pushed the two entities to find common ground.

“I am not a sangoma, but I warned you that will sit here again because Sassa wants to work with CPS,” IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa told the meeting, and warned that should a solution not be found, his party would write a letter to chairperson of committees Cedric Frolick to insist on a parliamentary inquiry on the matter.

Another IFP MP, Lizelle van der Merwe, was blunt, and directly pushed Dlamini on whether she was not amenable towards working with Sapo because she prefers “to work with CPS”.

Dlamini maintained she had been skeptical that Sapo would be able to deliver on the project, as their responses to her queries were not realistic regarding the complexity of the tender.

READ MORE: SAPO: We’re a fully fledged bank and able to deliver on Sassa contract

“Why is [acting Hawks boss Lieutenant-General Zolisa] Matakata not in this meeting? Have we stopped inviting the Hawks, and why is she not here? I am asking because, chair, there is perjury. We were dealing with perjury even last week,” EFF’s Veronica Mente said to committee members as she scanned the room looking for the acting Hawks boss.

Capa came to Bathabile’s defence and dimissed the IFP’s suggestion that the matter required a parliamentary inquiry. The DA also challenged the co-chairperson of the meeting on what it termed attempts to shield the minister from answering questions.

When given the opportunity to respond to presentations made earlier by Barnes, the acting CEO for the grants authority conceded she and Barnes had been in communication on several occasions, but she disagreed with Barnes’ insistence that the tender process be altered to factor in certain demands, which included Sapo taking on the banking aspect of the tender.

Barnes eventually admitted the two bodies had had major disagreements, but expressed hope in the process towards finding a solution. He said there was no “malice” as far as how the disagreements arose. He pleaded with Sassa to reconsider the decision to halt negotiations on the matter.

In the end, Dlamini herself gave Bhengu and her team an instruction to meet with Sapo to work out a deal. “Yes, it is must. They have to meet. Even if they have to work throughout the night,” she said, with a few MPs giving her a soft round of applause.

“Together with my chairperson [Capa], we will go to the speaker’s office and inform the chairperson [Cedric Frolick] we will have agreed that the matter will be resolved. We will meet again here tomorrow at 18:00 to hear feedback of the meeting,” Godi said as the meeting was adjourned.


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