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MBABANE - Has government extended the contract of Eswatini Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (EPTC) for the distribution of elderly grants?

This is the question that begs an answer following that the parastatal’s contract is expected to end this month. Information gathered was that the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, which is responsible for the distribution of the grants, has considered extending the contract while going about its exercise of verifying qualifying recipients. According to an impeccable source, the DPM’s Office has allegedly given the parastatal up until November to continue distributing the grants. “The contract has been extended for six months as the DPM’s office is hoping to explore other options,” said the source.

The DPM is on record stating that his office was working to review the distribution of elderly grants in the country. It should be noted that Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg stated during his budget speech on February 27 that government would undertake an exercise to verify qualifying recipients and reducing the cost of distributing the grants. He said this would result in increased grants for each qualifying recipient.


As it stands, government has allocated an amount of E702 million for the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in order to continue with the social protection improvements for emaSwati. The finance minister highlighted that the exercise would assist to address growing inequalities between the rich and the poor. He said as of April 1, 2019, over 70 000 elderly people were to be catered for with a total allocation of E417 million. Called for comment, DPM Themba Masuku confirmed that the contract of EPTC was coming to an end this month. However, he said he was not aware that his office had considered extending the contract of the parastatal. “I have heard that the contract is coming to an end but I have not yet said that it has been extended. “For now I am looking at a better way to distribute the grants,” Masuku said.

In vernacular, Masuku said, “Ngisengakakusho loko. Mine nje ngisafuna indlela lencono yekutfumela imali”. As he spoke, Principal Secretary in the DPM’s office, Khangeziwe Mabuza, was standing next to him and he asked her to shed light on the matter.
At first, Mabuza was not welcoming as she advised the reporter to write what she wanted. “It is fine, she can go ahead and write what she wants. We have actually written to them informing them that we are terminating the contract,” she said without giving further details. Efforts to get a comment from EPTC Corporate Communications Manager Nqobile Magagula were not successful as her cellphone rang unanswered when she was contacted on Friday. EPTC, through its SwaziPost division, began the distribution of the grants as a pilot project way back in October 2015. On the first payout, which was on October 6, it became obvious that the pilot project was a success as a majority of the elderly gave it a thumbs up, saying it was easy and fast.
At the time, the grant stood at E240 and many of the elderly were complaining that it was too little.


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