High-powered panel to watch grants handover
With just nine months to go before the critical end-March 2018 cut-off date, the Constitutional Court has released details of a high-powered panel appointed to monitor the process of phasing out Net1’s involvement in the distribution of social grants.
The calibre of the panel members — which includes former Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus, head of the National Payment System Tim Masela, ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang and IT expert Mmamolatelo Mathekga — indicates the court is intent on ensuring a smooth and effective process.
Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis said it was evident that the court wanted to ensure it was not misled by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini or the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) about Sassa’s ability to distribute social grants without Net1.
Until late in 2016 Dlamini had insisted Sassa would be able to take over from Net1 subsidiary Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) by the end of March, when the previous social grant distribution contract was due to expire. The contract had been declared invalid by the court in 2014 but the declaration of invalidity was suspended due to the contract’s critical nature and the failure to find a replacement for CPS.
In mid-March, with the April payment looming and no feasible alternative to CPS, the court ruled Sassa and CPS were under a constitutional obligation to continue paying social grants until another entity was able to do so. It extended CPS’s contract for 12 months. During that period Sassa and CPS would be monitored by the court and a panel of independent technical advisers.
The Black Sash and Freedom Under Law, who had launched the mid-March court action, argued the court should play an oversight role in the 12-month handover process. The department wanted the process to be monitored by the public protector and the auditor-general.
On Monday, Sassa released the list of panel members and said it "will give the panel all the required support to ensure that the process becomes a success and that grant beneficiaries are protected by all means possible". The other panel members are Deloitte director Angela Bester, partner at Genesis Analytics Anthony Felet, advocate Werner Krull, attorney Dorish Tshepe, banking consultant Heinz Weilert and consultant Brand Taute.