Mark Barnes. Picture: SUPPLIED
Mark Barnes. Picture: SUPPLIED

The involvement of Net1 subsidiary Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) will be required for about six months after the expiry of its contract at the end of March to ensure a seamless transition to a new system for the payment of social grants, says South African Post Office CEO Mark Barnes.

Barnes said on Monday that it had always been accepted there would be CPS involvement during the process in which the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) took over the payment of social grants.

Sassa has applied to the Constitutional Court for a six-month extension of the CPS contract, which was declared invalid by the court but extended for a year last year to allow for the proper preparation for the takeover of the social grants system by Sassa. Sassa argued that the CPS contract needs to be extended to end-September to cater for the cash payment of social grants to about 2.5-million beneficiaries.

"We had to design a system in terms of which the new system was already in full operation before we turned the old one off," Barnes said. Switching beneficiaries from Grindrod/CPS accounts and cards to the Postbank card, which would begin on April 1, would take a maximum of six months.

Barnes’s view on the need for CPS to be involved in the transition process comes as the portfolio committee on social development and critics of CPS have expressed opposition to the extension of its contract. The committee has acknowledged that there will have to be a phase-in-phase-out process in which CPS is involved, but believes that this will not require an extension of its contract.

Barnes said Sassa and the Post Office were co-operating to achieve what was a "national imperative". The Post Office has in the past recorded its dissatisfaction with the co-operation it was receiving from Sassa but Barnes said this was no longer the case.

Post Office senior communications manager Bongani Diako said the takeover involved about 5.7-million beneficiaries.

With Khulekani Magubane

ensorl@businesslive.co.za