Just weeks before the scheduled handover of the social grants payment system to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA)‚ the agency has suddenly started looking for possible partners. A compulsory briefing session was held in Pretoria on January 13 for "service providers" interested in tendering for "the Social Grant Payment and Banking Services". SA’s 17-million social grants are currently paid monthly from the National Treasury by Cash Paymaster Services (CPS)‚ part of listed company Net1. But in terms of a commitment to the Constitutional Court in 2015‚ SASSA itself is due to take over payments from the end of March. Scepticism about SASSA’s ability to take over the complex system has been increased by evasive responses to questions in Parliament from Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and SASSA officials. The agency has been mired in staffing problems‚ fraud‚ failure to curb illegal and unauthorised deductions from social grants by private companies preying o...

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