After months of evasiveness and obfuscation, the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) has finally committed to briefing Parliament on its plans for the distribution of social grants to more than 17 million poor South Africans.
Last week, the committee members received notice that SASSA will appear before the Portfolio Committee on the 30th of November to give a briefing on its preparation and readiness to take over the distribution of R10 billion in social grants.
The agency will also report on the progress made on implementing the Constitutional Court ruling on the bidding of the new social assistance payment tender.
The DA heartily welcomes this announcement after seeking, to little avail, answers on this crucial takeover.
The SASSA takeover of grants for the poor and vulnerable has been of serious concern to the DA for many months and we are concerned that SASSA is in no position to take over the distribution of grants.
Of particular concern was the Constitutional Court Judgement of November 2014, where SASSA was given seven deliverables to comply along with time frames which would need to be met to ensure a smooth transition of the distribution of social grants.
Written questions to the Minister have remained unanswered, questions in the Portfolio Committee were blocked and a presentation due by SASSA on the 16th of November was postponed, as SASSA had more important things to attend to in Panama.
Unrelenting, the DA pushed the Portfolio Chairperson, Ms Rosemary Capa, to ensure that the Minister and SASSA appear before the Committee to account for preparations of the takeover, before the end of the Parliamentary term in December.
It is vitally important that plans with regard to the meeting of the Constitutional Court judgement are presented, along with budget and payment models which were presented to the National Treasury, the recommendations of the Advisory Committee, role and function of workstream leaders and confirmation that all relevant plans are in place for the SASSA takeover of grants in April 2017.
If indeed SASSA is not ready, as the DA suspects, an alternative plan must be presented. 17 million grants recipients, whose very survival is dependent on their grants each month, cannot be left in the cold if SASSA has dragged their feet.
Lindy Wilson MP
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Social Development