News24.com | Shabangu suspended Sassa tender to replace CPS due to ‘challenges‘

Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu explained to MPs that she had to suspend tender processes to find a new service provider to replace Cash Paymaster Services, due to “challenges” with the tender.

Shabangu appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Social Development on Wednesday to account for the department‘s annual performance and budget plan.

A Sassa delegation was also there, due to present its own plan later on Wednesday.

The new minister – who was appointed during President Cyril Ramaphosa‘s Cabinet reshuffle in February – said the suspension of the tender, revealed in court papers filed with the Constitutional Court last week – was necessary.

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Shabangu, however, was adamant that there was “no confusion”, and that the move was to ensure that they could get rid of CPS permanently for those 2.5 million beneficiaries who require cash payments.

“Indeed, there is a suspension we‘ve launched with the courts, but there is nothing we are doing that is illegal,” she told MPs on Wednesday.

“We did that, because there were challenges [in the tender]. When we identify challenges, we cannot just watch them and fold our arms. We want to get out of the courts and run Sassa, without being managed by the courts.

“The court cannot continue being frustrated by us. We‘ve got to pull up our socks and make sure we do the right thing.”

In court papers last week, Shabangu cited problematic tender specifications and a lack of technical expertise on the bid evaluating committee as the reasons for her decision.

This after one of the bidders, G4S Cash Solutions, raised concerns in March about the specifications in the tender.

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“Having identified those challenges, ignoring them, continuing as if we had not identified problems [would not be correct]. You don‘t say, ‘because I‘m in court, I‘m not going to address it and burden the court with things you can correct.”

Sassa has six months to find a new replacement for CPS, leading some, including NGO Black Sash, to question whether the process could now be completed in time.

Sassa gets new acting CEO

Shabangu assured the committee that the cash payments portion of the social grants system had not changed, and would continue as normal.

She did not give a date for when the tender would be reactivated, but assured MPs that they would meet the September 30 deadline to find a replacement for CPS.

“We are mindful, we are aware of the time factor. We really want to comply with the court. We are not looking for an extension, because we want to comply.

“Come September, everything must be on track. We don‘t want an extension, because then the court is going to hang us.”

Shabangu also confirmed that the agency had appointed its fourth CEO in the past two years, after former acting CEO Pearl Bhengu requested to be transferred back to her role as regional Sassa head in KwaZulu-Natal.

The new acting CEO is Abraham Mahlangu, who is also the agency‘s Chief Information Officer.

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