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Grants tender will stand

There was nothing corrupt about the SA Social Security Agency's R10 billion grants tender to Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said.

The tender would stand despite a ruling on Tuesday by the High Court in Johannesburg that the awarding of the contract was illegal and invalid.

The court, however, did not set aside the tender to provide grants to 10 million South Africans.

Dlamini said irregularities identified in the awarding of the tender were technical and administrative in nature.

"The court acknowledged that those irregularities did not warrant the continued provision of the payment of social grants to be aborted and disrupted," she said.

On allegations from the previous grant distributors, AllPay, that the awarding of the tender was influenced by members of the bid evaluation committee, Dlamini stressed there was no finding of any conflicts of interest when the contract was awarded.

Dlamini said members of both the bid evaluation and adjudicating committees had been vetted.

"Before the (tender) process even started, the State Security Agency checked all people serving on both committees."

The minister said a review of the supply chain management system would however be undertaken. This included the scoring system, which AllPay challenged in the court application.

The Mail&Guardian reported on Tuesday that the Absa bank owned company claimed its bid scores were "inexplicably" lowered after a technical presentation so that its competitor would win the contract.

"[AllPay's] interim score was reduced from 70 percent to 58 percent in every category, regardless of whether the relevant issue was discussed at the meeting or not. Despite the fact that applicants had a financial backing from Absa Bank Limited, which is a member of global Barclays group, points were deducted from applicants...," the judgment read.

The court criticised the agency for the composition of the bid evaluation committee. It did not meet the requirement of having a supply chain expert on board, which affected the fairness of the process.

Dlamini said the shortcomings would be addressed.

She said the CPS contract would most likely be the last tender awarded, as the government intended paying grants directly to recipients in five years.

"We have to cut out the middle man. We have to ensure that government does it on its own. Sassa was established to pay grants."

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