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ConCourt instructs Sassa, CPS to continue paying social grants

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JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court has ruled the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) are under a constitutional obligation to continue to pay social grants on 1 April until another entity is able to do so.

Further, CPS's contract has been extended for 12 months, with the suspension of the invalidity of the contract extended.

The court has criticized the conduct of Sassa and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini for allowing this situation to happen.

CPS did not get a new contract as it had hoped.

Instead, the Constitutional Court has extended the suspension of the invalidity of the current contract for 12 months to give Sassa time to appoint another company to distribute social grants.

CPS and Sassa will be closely monitored by the court and independent and technical advisors during the 12 months as a bidding process for a new entity is completed.

Justice Froneman says the Minister's conduct has been extraordinary.

In 2014 the highest court in the land declared the Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) contract invalid. The contract expires at the end of March.

The Constitutional Court requested Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini account for the controversy surrounding the payout of social grants.

During court proceedings, the department proposed that Sassa extended its current contract with CPS, or draw up a new one for at least 18 months.

Judges were unimpressed with the excuses that Sassa and the minister presented this week about why the payment crisis wasn’t resolved several months or even years ago.

Sassa knew in April 2016 that it wouldn’t be able to take over the payment system from CPS.

Black Sash and Freedom Under Law, who brought an application on how social grants can be paid on 1 April, argued that the Constitutional Court should play an oversight role in the grant payments deal.

However, the department said it wanted the deal to be monitored by the Public Protector and Auditor-General.

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