The outsourcing of South Africa’s social grant payment system to Cash Paymaster
Services, a private financial service provider, has been the subject of increasing
public attention in recent years. In 2012, reports of unauthorized deductions from
grant beneficiaries’ bank accounts for financial services sold by CPS’ sister
companies emerged, and the looming grant payment crisis facing South Africa’s
Social Security Agency (SASSA) dominated the news headlines for months in 2016
Many observers saw these events as yet another instance of corruption and
incompetence on the part of individuals in high places in government and the private
sector in Africa. Such allegations have come to have a prominent place in local and
international media reports about the continent, and carry the implication that the
solution to the problem lies in getting rid of the guilty individuals – the ‘bad apples’ –
who undermine an otherwise well-functioning system.
This dissertation attempts to take the discussion of the social grants saga beyond
this perspective, thus filling the gap between the public debate and the ‘bigger as
advocated by Prahalad’s “Bottom of the Pyramid” theory and concepts such as
‘corporate social responsibility’ and ‘financial inclusion’.
The aim is to challenge the public perception of the social grants saga as a case of
‘corruption and incompetence’ on the part of selected individuals, to make a local
contribution to the global debate on the changing relationship between corporations
and states, and to illustrate the detrimental effects this changing relationship can
have on the poorest and most vulnerable part of the population.
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2017.