Dlamini places blame on Sassa CEO

2017-03-15 09:19
Bathabile Dlamini appears before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Gallo Images)

Bathabile Dlamini appears before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Gallo Images)

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Johannesburg – Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has effectively thrown Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza under the bus, saying he did not follow her advice and that he was engaging with the Post Office without her knowledge.

In a confirmatory affidavit to the Constitutional Court, Dlamini said she wanted to record that there were a number of matters leading to the delay in resolving the grants crisis, which "concern specifically the approach and conduct of Mr Magwaza".

She said that on February 7, Magwaza made an application to the National Treasury to deviate from the normal bidding process – seeking an extension of the current, invalid contract with Cash Paymaster Services.

She said that at the meeting of the Sassa executive on February 20, which she and Magwaza attended, she made it clear that she expected him to act very urgently.

"I know he did not heed my advice in that he did not take any urgent steps to redress the situation shortly after the meeting."

'Parallel engagements'

She said that what he did do was on February 27, while on sick leave and "without my concurrence and contrary to the advice of Sassa's then-legal team", file an application with the ConCourt to extend the CPS contract.

That application was later withdrawn.

"I believe that Mr Magwaza has been having parallel engagements with the South African Post Office (SAPO) without my knowledge, or that of Sassa's executive."

The chair of CPS' parent company Net1 said on Wednesday that if Sassa and Treasury do not agree to a new interim contract with CPS by Thursday, the social grants distributor may not be able to pay more than 17 million beneficiaries on April 1.

Speaking to Radio 702 on Tuesday evening, Serge Belamant told the station that the company needed at least 12 working days to ensure that it would be all systems go come April 1.

"If you work backwards from the 1st day of April, we need to ensure that the process starts 12 days prior to that in order for us to, number one, have the money so we can put it into beneficiaries' bank accounts so they can withdraw it."

The Constitutional Court will on Wednesday hear an application by Black Sash for the court to exercise oversight over the process to find a new social grants payment provider.

On March 8, the court sent Dlamini and the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) questions about the process of appointing a new service provider to pay social grants from April 1. They were given a deadline of Monday at 16:00 to provide answers.

Failed to meet deadline

Dlamini and Sassa failed to meet the deadline to answer the court's questions about when Sassa knew it would be unable to take over the grants payments, when its contract with CPS expires on March 31.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday issued a new directive to Sassa and Dlamini to explain why they missed the deadline to respond to its questions. Dlamini missed this deadline as well by several minutes.

In 2014, the court ruled that the contract with CPS was illegal and invalid. It suspended the order of invalidity until March 31 this year to allow the department and Sassa to insource the administrative requirements to distribute grants.

A task team of Cabinet ministers has rejected a proposed extension of Sassa’s contract with CPS.

SAPO has also joined the scramble to replace CPS as the country's social grants distributor amid the ongoing crisis over the payment of beneficiaries.

CEO Mark Barnes submitted an affidavit dated March 13 to the Constitutional Court as part of the Post Office's application to be admitted as a friend of the court in the Black Sash vs Sassa matter.

In the court papers, Barnes states that using the Post Office would "serve the national interest, protect beneficiaries' information and support government's ambitions for radical socio-economic transformation".

Barnes has proposed two alternative systems to solve the crisis, including one that could be implemented within days. However, another long-term plan would need to include CPS.

Read more on:    sassa  |  cps  |  sapo  |  bathabile dlamini  |  johannesburg  |  grants

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