Sassa to withdraw grant payment application from Concourt

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) is set to withdraw its urgent Constitutional Court application.

On Wednesday morning the office of the registrar told the Mail & Guardian that the papers had not yet been physically filed, but Nathi Mncube, spokesperson for the chief justice, confirmed that an unsigned notice to withdraw was sent to all the parties.

The notice to withdraw states that Sassa and its chief executive Thokozani Magwaza “hereby withdraw the application filed with this court on the 28 February 2017”.

Sassa filed papers to the Concourt on Tuesday requesting the court to authorise its negotiations with Cash Paymaster Service (CPS) to pay grants for the next year.

The social security agency has been under scrutiny for its failure to secure a service provider to deliver grant payments before March 31. Sassa’s existing contract with CPS, which the Concourt found to be invalid and unlawful in 2014, expires on March 31.

On April 1, Sassa is expected to pay grants to the 17 million South Africans who rely on the agency.
However, in the papers filed to the Concourt on Tuesday, Sassa confirmed that without CPS, there poor South Africans on the grant system will face “hardship”.

Sassa spokesperson Kgomotso Diseko told Business Day that the matter had been withdrawn because not everything had been included in the court papers. 

“The reason at the moment is the fact that there were … inputs not included,” Diseko said

He added that the application would be filed again, but did not say when.

“It’s going to be relodged again.”

In the meantime, Sassa’s contract with CPS expires in just 30 days. The social security agency has not yet indicated that it has a back-up plan in place if negotiations with CPS fails. 

Negotiations are set to begin on Wednesday with CPS for what Mvulane says will be a new contract. The agency decided to move ahead with negotiations yesterday, despite not yet having an order from the Concourt authorising the engagements.

While Sassa is expected to withdraw its case from Concourt, Black Sash will still forge ahead. On Tuesday the human rights organisation filed papers asking the Concourt to allow CPS’s services to continue so that grants can be paid on April 1.

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