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MBABANE – Cabinet has instructed the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office to reengage the EPTC for the disbursement of social grants, while a substantive vendor is being sought.

This, despite that the agreement between Eswatini Post and Telecommunications Corporation (EPTC )and the government came to an end in May this year and government was expected to have already embarked on an exercise to hire a vendor on a fresh contract. Recently, parliament frowned at the DPM’s office for not advertising the tender for a new vendor ahead of the end of the EPTC contract in May this year.

EPTC was distributing the grants through its SwaziPost company.
Swazi News gathered reliably that DPM Masuku was scheduled to break the news to members of parliament on Thursday but could not, as the parliament hansard, a recording device, was malfunctioning.

When asked about the issue, the DPM only confirmed that the EPTC would continue in the meantime, while a vendor was sought. He said he was not at liberty to divulge any details until Monday when he is scheduled to report to Parliament.

“This matter is on the parliament Order Paper. I cannot discuss it outside that structure until I have reported to the August House on Monday,” he said.
The latest development is expected to leave a bad taste in the mouth of some parliamentarians who said, in an interview, that the new arrangement seems irregular. “We were still awaiting a report from EPTC on how their recent engagement fared. I’m totally in the dark about what you are saying as no information has reached me. However, if that is the case, then there will be unfair advantage over others because government is still to advertise the tender for a vendor,” said Public Accounts Committee Chairperson Phila Buthelezi when called yesterday evening.

MP Buthelezi said the principal secretary in the DPM’s Office had promised the PAC that while a vendor was sought, ministry officials would distribute the grants on their own.
Another MP, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was expecting the DPM to state how much EPTC would get for the process and how the elderly would benefit from the arrangement.

“If the EPTC is awarded again, then we must get information on the basis for such an arrangement because no tender was issued. We are not expecting this to be a gentlemen’s agreement. The basic issue is delivery of the grants on time. Our duty also, as MPs, is to ensure there in nothing questionable in the award of the tender,” he said.

The PS, Khangeziwe Mabuza, had also told the PAC that her ministry officials were ready to distribute the grants in the meantime. When the matter of the vendor was discussed before the PAC, it was revealed that there were some discrepancies during the previous disbursement exercise.
It was also revealed that some beneficiaries of the grants had reported a certain employee of SPTC to the police on allegations of wrongdoing during the disbursement process. The nature of the alleged crime was not divulged.


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