The Minister, in his capacity as the chair of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Comprehensive Social Security, said this when he briefed a joint meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Portfolio Committee on Social Development on the payment of social grants.
“A lot has been achieved in the 10 days towards finding a sustainable solution for the payment of social grants in the country.
“The commitment of the IMC to yourselves and our people was to conclude the implementation protocol, communication strategy and the implementation plan.
“The implementation protocol was concluded and signed between SASSA and SAPO, and by the Minister in the Presidency on behalf of the IMC,” Minister Radebe said.
The Minister’s remarks come after the IMC assured the joint meeting on 8 November 2017 that it would establish a dedicated team that would work towards the finalisation of the agreement between SASSA and SAPO, as well as the development of an implementation plan and a communications strategy.
Minister Radebe said the dedicated team, which was established as a technical committee, has confirmed a public sector-led hybrid model, which includes a partnership with Home Affairs, the State Security Agency and financial institutions.
The hybrid approach, the Minister said, will allow a set of public sector and private sector service providers by offering beneficiaries maximum choice, access and convenience.
“The implementation protocol is an overarching agreement in terms of the Inter-Governmental Relations Framework Act of 2005.
“The collaboration between SASSA and SAPO is further enabled by Section 238(b) of the Constitution of South Africa, Section 4(2)(b) of the South African Social Security Act of 2004 which allows SASSA to ‘do anything necessary for the realisation of the Agency’s objects’, and the National Integrated ICT White Paper Policy,” he said.
The Minister said the protocol allows SAPO to provide SASSA by 1 April 2018, subject to cost effectiveness:
- Corporate Control Account (Holding Account);
- Special Disbursement Accounts;
- Card Body Production and Distribution, subject to price competitiveness, and
- On-boarding of new beneficiaries (Instant Account Opening and Card issuance at SASSA branches and biometric authentication of beneficiaries.
The Minister said the protocol forms a foundation for the signing of a further detailed collaborative agreement between SASSA and SAPO with a “detailed project plan” that will be submitted to the IMC by 6 December 2017 and to the panel of experts and the Constitutional Court by 8 December.
“The meeting with the financial institutions and the Banking Council of South Africa of the 10th of November 2017 agreed on the principle of establishing a special affordable account for SASSA beneficiaries and how to enhance their role in SASSA grants.
“The parties agreed to further meetings to discuss the details of the commercial accounts and the expansion of their joint activities,” Minister Radebe said.
The Minister said the implementation protocol is accompanied by an overarching implementation plan, which identifies various critical steps required to ensure the payments of grants by 1 April 2018.
He said the plan outlines various stages, including finalising all necessary service agreements; agreement on the cost model and conclusion of the cost benefit analysis of the options; issuance of the first batch of the new biometric-enabled card and developing software for the card management system.
The final stage would be a handover process from Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to the new service provider.
A communications strategy has also been developed by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), as per IMC directive. The GCIS will ensure that beneficiaries remain informed and that their fears about the payment of social grants are allayed.
“We understand the anxieties that the impasse over social grants has caused, including fears that the cards might expire and beneficiariewill not receive their grants. I can assure all SASSA beneficiaries across the country that no card will expire come end of this calendar year,” he said.