5 notable points in the Sassa court case judgment
Five notable points came out of the Constitutional Court ruling on the social grants payment case‚ involving the Department of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency.
1. Minister blamed
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini was blamed for the crisis and now may finally have to explain herself.
This is an attempt at forcing her to be accountable. Dlamini didn’t appear at Scopa hearing on the matter in parliament and held a media conference instead. She missed at least two other parliamentary briefings and misled parliament when she did appear.
In papers she filed at court‚ she has given little explanation for why the crisis occurred‚ what she knew and why she did nothing.
The court has tried to give her penalties by asking her to explain why she doesn’t have to pay costs of the two party's senior advocates.
"There is little doubt that the Minister and Sassa are liable in their official capacity for the costs‚" ruled Judge Johan Froneman.
3. Future recipients
Future grant recipients are protected from deductions off their grants by companies selling them loans and insurance. The order prevents Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) from giving personal contact details to their affiliate companies so they can sell airtime‚ funeral policies and loans with huge admin fees.
"But this has horse has bolted‚" noted advocate Geoff Budlender SC‚ acting for Black Sash in court on Wednesday‚ as products have already been sold to many beneficiaries.
The taxpayer is protected … as the price of contract stays the same
CPS in December asked for an increase from R16.44 per grant payment per beneficiary to between R22 and R25. In court they asked for an inflation- based increase‚ but the court has ruled the price they earn per pay-out remains at R16.44.
However‚ if CPS wants an increase‚ they have to justify it to treasury by providing all their financial data. CPS's income and expenses will be independently audited and the court will then have to decide if an increase is warranted taking treasury's opinion into account.
Independent experts have to audit how the tender process to find a payer is going and if Sassa can develop the capacity to pay grants without a third party.
This is something the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng felt strongly Sassa should be capable of doing. The independent experts are a safeguard because Sassa promised the court in 2015 they would have the system in-house ready by April 1 and broke this promise.