The South African Post Office (SAPO) Chief Operating Officer, Lindiwe Kwele, says the migration of grant beneficiaries to Postbank has already commenced.
Kwele on Tuesday said that the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has signed off on the new card design for social grant beneficiaries and that after a purchase order is issued to the preferred bidder on Friday, the first batch of two million cards is expected to be delivered on 16 March 2018.
After this, two million cards will be delivered every three weeks until a total order of 10.6 million cards has been delivered by 8 June 2018.
Kwele said this when the SA Post Office briefed the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services on Tuesday on its readiness to migrate beneficiaries to its new integrated grant payment system.
“The migration of beneficiaries to Postbank accounts has commenced and is being prioritised and monitored weekly,” she said.
The briefing comes after the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Social Security, led by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, announced in December that an agreement was reached between parties in the IMC to pave way for the implementation of a hybrid grant payment model.
Under the new model, SAPO would provide services such as electronic banking services, including the provision of a central holding account and special disbursement accounts, on-boarding of new beneficiaries and the biometric authentication of beneficiaries. The State-owned entity would also be responsible for the development of the required software solution to replace the incumbent systems as well as provide cash pay points at its outlets.
On Tuesday, Kwele told Members of Parliament that a Corporate Holding Account will be opened once SAPO receives the required account opening documents from SASSA, which are yet to be handed over.
She said the opening of the Special Disbursement Accounts will also only occur upon the commencement of the service in April 2018.
On the Integrated Grant Payment Platform Solution, Kwele said a request for proposal was issued on 27 December 2017 with a closing date of 22 January 2018. The Bid Adjudication Committee is scheduled to sit on Friday 22 January 2018 and with contracting set to be concluded by 23 February 2018, it is expected that the solution will be commissioned by 19 March 2018.
“SAPO is compliant with the terms and conditions of the Service Agreement signed on the 8th of December 2017.
“SAPO has the capacity to deliver on its mandate or obligations. SAPO and Postbank do have the necessary funding to implement the project. An aggressive communications and marketing campaign [in partnership with GCIS] is underway,” she said.
Contingency plan should integrated grant payment platform not be ready
Kwele said, meanwhile, that in the unlikely event that the new integrated grant payment platform is not ready by 1 April 2018, an interim Mzansi-like Account with a web-service facility has been created to enable on-boarding of new beneficiaries at SASSA offices by 26 February 2018.
“This solution will require SASSA officials to perform a light account opening and for the beneficiaries to collect their interim [Mzansi] cards at SAPO branches.
“All such cards will be replaced with the new SASSA card during the phase-in/ phase-out at no cost to SASSA or the beneficiary,” she said.
She said Postbank is developing the Special Disbursement Account structure on its core banking platform that can be used, with the new SASSA EMV card, until the new integrated grant payment solution has been developed.
The briefing by SAPO comes after the Constitutional Court had given SASSA to deliver a comprehensive plan to the court by 8 December 2017, detailing how it will pay more than 17 million grant recipients.
In March last year, the Constitutional Court extended SASSA’s contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for a year in order to fulfil the constitutional obligation of paying social grants to beneficiaries.
Its contract, which was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court in 2014, would have come to an end on 31 March 2017. The court, however, suspended the contract’s invalidity so grants could continue to be paid while SASSA made another plan for 1 April 2018.