Court lays down law for social grants tender process

20 March 2015 - 14:01 By Ernest Mabuza
Social grant beneficiaries, mostly women, wait outside a Sassa office. Calls are being made to protect vulnerable people from unscrupulous lenders.
Social grant beneficiaries, mostly women, wait outside a Sassa office. Calls are being made to protect vulnerable people from unscrupulous lenders.
Image: LULAMILE FENI

The Constitutional Court set a timetable on how the tender for the countrywide payment of social grants to beneficiaries should be handled by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).

After declaring in 2013 that the awarding of the contract to Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) was invalid, the Constitutional Court last year ordered Sassa to run a new tender for the payment of social grants. It said the new tender must be for a period of five years.

CPS had been awarded a five-year contract in February 2012 and started its service in April 2012. The contract was supposed to expire in April 2017.

While the court declared that the 2012 contract was invalid, it did not set it aside but allowed CPS to continue providing the service until a new tender had been finalised.

While Sassa issued a request for proposals last year, which sets out the requirements for the service, CPS has complained that there are a number of deficiencies, including in the requirements for the delivery of new biometric payment cards.

When Sassa refused a request by CPS to remedy the defects, the company approached the Constitutional Court in December last year. While Sassa had made some corrections, CPS still had concerns.

The concerns raised by CPS were due to be heard  by the Constitutional Court on Thursday but CPS, Sassa and other parties involved in the litigation reached a settlement beforehand which was made an order of the court yesterday.

CPS, Sassa and the losing bidder in the 2012 contract, AllPay Consolidated Investment Holdings, all indicated they sought the re-running of a proper and quickened tender process.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Thursday ordered that Sassa shall effect its proposed amendments to the request for proposals, to address the issues raised by CPS, by April 2.

He also ordered that if CPS had any concerns about the amendments, it should notify the court and the parties by April 16 and the court will issue directives for an urgent hearing to resolve those issues.

If there were no objections, Sassa shall circulate the request for proposals to all the prospective bidders and the court by April 17.

The court ordered that all bids must be submitted by May 17 and Sassa must award the new tender by October 15 this year.

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