Concourt rules CPS continue with grant payments for a year

The Constitutional court has ruled that the suspension on an invalid contract between grants agency Sassa and Cash Paymaster Service (CPS) will be extended for 12 months.

The extension will enable Sassa to pay grants due to over 17 million beneficiaries by 1 April, until another distributor is able to do so.

Judge Johan Froneman delivered the verdict which took less than 30 minutes on Friday morning.

Our order reflects that Sassa and CPS should continue to fulfill their respective constitutional obligations in the payment of social grants for a period of 12 months, as an extension of the current contract.

Judge Johan Froneman, Judge of the Constitutional Court

To the extent necessary our earlier declaration of invalidity of that contract must be further extended as well as the suspension of that declaration of invalidity.

Judge Johan Froneman, Judge of the Constitutional Court

The invalid contract with service provider CPS was due to expire at the end of March.

In 2015 Sassa told the court it would not award a new contract but would take over payment responsibilities from April this year.

The judges were unimpressed with arguments on Wednesday, explaining why Sassa and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini did not resolve the payments crisis several months, or even years ago.

Sassa knew in April 2016 that it would not be able to take over the payment system from CPS.

The minister bears the primary responsibility to ensure that Sassa fulfills its functions. She appoints its Chief Executive officer, there is little that the CEO can do without her direction.

Judge Johan Froneman, Judge of the Constitutional Court

Attempts to obtain evidence of what steps she took after all to ensure that beneficiaries would continue to be well catered for, drew a blank.

Judge Johan Froneman, Judge of the Constitutional Court

These aspects require further scrutiny, but that can only be done after the minister is joint to the proceedings in her capacity and given an opportunity to explain her conduct in relation to these issues.

Judge Johan Froneman, Judge of the Constitutional Court

Black Sash has been given direct access to bring the ConCourt application.

Froneman says the minister and Sassa will be required to file an affidavit with the court every three months from April, setting out how they plan to ensure the payments of grants after the 12 month period.

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