‘Dlamini knew since 2015’

2017-04-09 06:00
Thokozani Magwaza

Thokozani Magwaza

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The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has left Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini in a pickle after disputing her claim to the Constitutional Court that she only knew in October 2016 that the agency could not run the social grants payments.

In an affidavit filed on Friday, Sassa chief executive Thokozani Magwaza accused Dlamini of misleading the court about when she became aware that Sassa would be unable to take over social grant payments this month.

Tomorrow, former social development director-general Zane Dangor is also expected to file an affidavit to deal with matters in Dlamini’s affidavit, in which he is implicated.

Last month, the court ordered Dlamini to give reasons she should not be held personally liable for the cost of the court application brought by civil society group Black Sash to urgently secure a last-minute arrangement for the payment of social grants on an interim basis until Sassa could take over.

Sassa had promised the court three years ago that it would set up systems to run the grants payments by this month.

Magwaza argued that Dlamini knew of Sassa’s shortcomings at least four months before the agency submitted a report to the court in November 2015, in which it undertook to take over the distribution of social grants from Cash Paymaster Services on April 1 2017.

He attached as evidence a letter Dlamini wrote to his predecessor, Virginia Petersen, on July 9 2015, in which she communicated her decision “to appoint” a specialised team to implement the project of establishing systems to ensure Sassa took over the payment of grants smoothly in 2017.

Dlamini appointed individuals to run the project; they were to report directly to her. She retained direct control of the implementation process and “Sassa was instructed not to interrupt them or delay them”, Magwaza said.

Sassa’s efforts to control the project were thus derailed.

He said Dlamini was not part of a meeting she claimed, in her court application, to have attended. At the meeting Magwaza and officials from the Government Printing Works discussed the “printing of beneficiary cards”.

Responding to Dlamini’s claim that she told him to inform the court last December that Sassa would not meet its deadline, Magwaza said that because he had been in office for only one month, he tried to find alternative solutions involving local banks. But Dlamini was “determined that an internal solution will not be found”.

“It then transpired that the minister was against the utilisation of local banks and the SA Post Office,” Magwaza alleges.

He further charged that when he filed court papers on February 28 2017, explaining the situation ahead of the March 31 deadline upon legal advice, Dlamini withdrew them. He said he decided to file the application as he believed he was “not required to consult the minister on every operational aspect of the work of Sassa”.

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Read more on:    bathabile dlamini  |  sassa  |  social grants crisis

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