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Ground-Breaking Research Offers New Insights on Social Security Payments

April 18, 2017

Ms Nelly Mpungose. 

With the relationship between the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) currently under the spotlight, Master of Public Administration graduate Ms Nelly Mpungose’s ground breaking research on the issue offers new insights into the perspectives of various stakeholders.

It also gives recommendations of how the relationship between SASSA and CPS or any other service provider that may contract with SASSA in future should be handled.

Through her study titled: “Stakeholder Perspectives on Network Performance in Biometric Payment of Old Age Grant Recipients: The KwaZulu-Natal case of the Umlalazi Local Municipality”, Mpungose - a local office manager at SASSA in Mandeni - traced the relationship between NET1 and CPS.

She achieved this by showing through data analysis the issues surrounding the topical SASSA controversy. As well as featuring responses from SASSA officials at different levels, CPS employees and community focus group participants in different sub-areas of Umlalazi.

‘The drive to pursue my topic was that SASSA as the custodian of the social grants, sometimes had no clear answers to some of the challenges brought by the beneficiaries. This ended up in escalating some of the concerns to the Social Grants Unit telephonically. This diminishes the credibility of the officials at the local office level as there is no accountability on some of the issues raised,’ said Mpungose.

She added that the findings of the study, supervised by Dr Fayth Ruffin, reveal that the biometric payment system and the conditions of the pay points impact on the elders in the Zulu community.

‘The issue of the payment of beneficiaries is in the public domain right now as the current contract between SASSA and CPS which was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court expired at the end of March 2017. Everybody wants to know what will unfold after the 31 March 2018 when the new contract that has been drawn expires,’ she said.

Choosing Umlalazi and Mandeni as a study area was not only influenced by Mpungose’s work but also by the fact that as a member of the royal family of Inkosi B L Mpungose, who has jurisdiction over both these study sites, the need to better the lives of these communities was a cause close to her heart.

‘I was born and bred in Eshowe and have been working for the government for the past 26 years. This qualification opens doors in many avenues, especially when one has experience in working with the public. It enlightens one’s mind in every way possible,’ she said.

Going forward, Mpungose is set to continue exploring the opportunities opened by this research as she has been contacted by another PhD student wanting to pursue the matter further in light of the difficulties being faced by SASSA at the moment. 

Thandiwe Jumo

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