The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it still had some reservations about the South African Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) plans to take over the distribution of social grants, in partnership with the South African Post Office (Sapo).
While it is considerably less controversial than government’s previous relationship with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), there are still grave concerns about government capacity to handle the distribution of social grants.
“Cosatu cautiously welcomes the commitment by the Inter-Ministerial Committee that they are now ready to introduce an integrated payment system of social grants by government entities South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the South African Post Office (Sapo),” said Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla this week.
The consensus is that a resolution was long overdue and Cosatu is prepared to work with government to ensure that the country’s indigent are not compromised again, especially at this critical part of the year.
“We are looking forward to the detailed process unpacking the Sassa – Sapo takeover of social grants with clear timeframes. We expect Sapo to take over the whole process and not just manage the fingerprints,” added Pamla.
“This decision is in keeping with the spirit of both our South African Constitution and the 2014 Manifesto of the ANC. The injunctions of our Constitution place the public service and the broader public-sector at the centre of the socioeconomic development and the 2014 Manifesto states that ‘to reduce reliance on outsourcing, we will enhance the capacity of the state to directly provide goods and services.’
“There is neither obvious source nor mandate for the Neoliberal model of governance and operation of the public-sector that has largely characterised the post-Apartheid state.”
The consensus among many is that the Sanding Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) and parliament’s portfolio committee have played a critical role in this transition. Government has effectively been held to account.
Cosatu has given them tremendous credit for that, suggesting that the unsavoury relationship with CPS would have continued without the intervention of those two committees.
“There is still a lot of work to be done though because most of our government departments are the proverbial oil tankers, steeped in neoliberal ideology, so turning them around demands massive effort,” explained Pamla.
“The federation still believes that it is travesty that there was no one held accountable for the mess at Sassa. We are still demanding answers and accountability regarding the bureaucratic bungling and arrogance that nearly deprived 17 million people of their livelihood.”