27 MAR 2013 18:49 - CRAIG MCKUNE
Supreme Court of Appeals judges have unanimously overturned a high court ruling that a R10-billion social grant tender was "illegal and invalid".
- Read the full judgment here
Sassa awarded the contract to Cash Paymaster early last year. While AllPay challenged the validity of the tender process in the high court, several allegations of corruption were also levelled at Sassa and Cash Paymaster.
Early this month, in a last ditch attempt to have the supreme court consider some of the allegations, AllPay applied to introduce a clandestine 2012 recording of Sassa official John Tsalamandris describing how he believed the process had been rigged.
At the centre of AllPay’s application to the high court was a complaint that bid requirements were changed by an 11th hour notice – “Bidders Notice 2” – which stated that bidders would only be considered if they could biometrically verify the identity of grant beneficiaries before every grant payment.
The supreme court panel did not agree.
The supreme court also waved away a number of other concerns that had been supported by the high court:
- On the finding that Sassa “irrationally” overlooked Cash Paymaster’s failure to follow certain bid specifications, the panel ruled there was “no merit” to this.
- On alleged irregularities in the make up of the bid committees, which the high court ruled had “fundamentally” undermined the process, Nugent wrote: “Perhaps it was an internal 'irregularity' but it was not an unlawful irregularity.”
- The high court had also found against Sassa for failing to properly assess Cash Paymaster’s BEE component and agreeing to manage this through a subsequent contract. Of this, Nugent wrote: “One might question the wisdom of its decision but the evaluation of the bid was its prerogative and a court cannot interfere only because it thinks its decision was unwise.”
A department of social development spokesperson said Minister Dlamini “believes that Social Development and government have been vindicated by the supreme court, and Sassa can concentrate on making the system function well.