In terms of the Constitutional Court judgment handed earlier this year to regularise an illegally awarded contract to CPS/Net1, the department was expected to provide regular reports on the road map of how the tender would eventually be carried out internally.
The department, as the Sassa executive authority, was also instructed to procure a new service provider by the beginning of 2018-19 financial year around March 2017.
This saw Scopa, together with the portfolio committee on social development, for the past two weeks raining down on Dlamini, Telecommunications Minister Dr Siyabonga Cwele and the two state-owned entities to reach an agreement.
When National Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane told MPs last week that after being instructed to work “throughout the night” to thrash out a deal, the two entities had failed to “find each other” and also stated that technical teams from both parties had failed to meet.
This is when Scopa chairperson Themba Godi, with the concurrence of committee members, instructed Mogajane to assemble a technical evaluation team to assess if Sapo had the capacity to deliver on the social grant mandate. That feedback is expected to be given this week.
Speaking to the SABC this morning, Dlamini’s spokesperson, Lumka Oliphant, told the SABC that after engaging the Post Office on the details contained in its own tender bid, the department had come to the conclusion that handing the assignment to distribute social grants to Sapo would risk “reversing” the milestone Sassa had made in the past 10 years.
“For instance, if you look at the GIS [geographical information system] Sassa has about 9 000 outlets across the country, while the post office only has about 2 000,” Oliphant told Morning Live’s Leanne Manas, and argued Sapo could not afford to neglect beneficiaries in rural areas.
Oliphant also accused Sapo of being expedient in an effort to save itself through the Sassa tender, pointing out that whereas auditor-general Kimi Makwetu had a lot to say about Sassa and social development, what was never discussed was that Makwetu also made adverse comments about Sapo’s own cash-management deficiencies.
Oliphant also questioned exactly how Sapo, over and above information in their own bid documents exposing shortcomings on the distribution of cash grants to far-flung rural areas, the entity would deal with the elderly and the disabled.
She denied the minister had a preference for a different service provider than Sapo, and said the reason she agreed to meet with the post office was to determine their ability to deliver.
Oliphant also told Manas that what was never discussed in the media was how Sassa had saved the fiscus R2 billion when the tender was first awarded to CPS, and by now “it could be R10 billion”.
She also dismissed suggestions that Sapo had a track record, as it had once distributed social grants. “They paid only about 500 000 people at the time I think,” she said, and doubted they would be able to service 17 million beneficiaries satisfactorily.
You can follow the author @Gosebo_Mathope.