Around 17 million South Africans are dependent on social grants, and Reuters reports they cost the taxpayer more than R150bn a year.
If there is no corruption in a budget this large, it will be the glaring exception in South Africa.
The previous contract with Cash Paymaster Services, part of Net1, has ended, after the courts ruled it illegal.
The Minister responsible Bathabile Dlamini should have been kicked out in the latest reshuffle, so it is interesting to hear that it was the Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe who made the announcement to MPs that a new contract is being signed with the SA Post Office, in what is being termed a ‘hybrid model’, which will distribute the grants in cooperation with the Social Security Agency. Some banks will also be involved.
The announcement followed tense negotiations, which at one stage looked as if they would fail. The agreement is due to be signed by the end of next week.
So far, so good?
But is the Post Office really a competent player?
I regularly order parcels from the US; they almost as regularly go missing.
The Post Office is empowered to renew vehicle licences. My local Post Office couldn’t do so for days because the technology was not working.
Now, the renewal of a vehicle licence is a luxury; the payment of a grant to put food on the table and to offer a tiny bit of dignity to the poorest members of our society should not be negotiable.
And if they regularly steal my parcels, how much of the R150bn a year will be syphoned off?
That could put even the Guptas to shame.