Sassa 'Armageddon' will be avoided - Ramaphosa

2017-03-01 22:37
Cyril Ramaphosa (GCIS)

Cyril Ramaphosa (GCIS)

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Cape Town - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says government will not allow the wheels to come off as a Sassa social grants crisis looms.

Ramaphosa was answering questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

IFP MP Liesl van der Merwe said Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini had shown no leadership on the matter, and had actually "gone rogue" this week by not appearing in two parliamentary meetings.

She said Dlamini's department has absolutely no plan to take over the scheme in 30 days' time, and wanted to know if Ramaphosa could reassure Parliament over the pending "Armageddon".

"One of the really good things about our democracy, is it allows us to be able to raise matters of national interest like you are," Ramaphosa said.

"In doing so, we should also be willing to listen precisely to steps that are being taken."

"There aren't any!" opposition MPs shouted.

"The Sassa matter is being addressed," he said.

"How?" opposition MPs shouted over him.

"The 'Armageddon' that you are talking about will be avoided," he continued.

He said the 17 million people dependent on the grants will be paid on April 1, and government was fully aware of the Constitutional Court requirements.

"We are going to make sure that the wheels don't come off," he said.

"They already have!" Opposition MPs shouted back.

"When we do," he continued, "the minister will be prepared to come back here and address this matter and outline the steps that are being taken."

"Where is she?" they shouted one last time.

'Nothing suspicious' in review of mental health laws

Ramaphosa also addressed the issue of the more than 100 mental health patients who died in Gauteng after being transferred from government-subsidised Life Esidimeni centres to various unlicensed NGOs in 2016.

He said the final report of Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba concluded that there was prima facie evidence that certain officials and NGOs violated the Constitution and the Mental Health Care Act.

He said there should be dialogue about mental health care being handled at national government level instead of provincially.

"When we negotiated this Constitution, many people were fearful that national government would become so powerful and so overbearing it would override interests at the local level.

"The truth is, many have seen how national government has tried to help all people.

"There is nothing suspicious that national government does to undermine any sphere of government in the country."

Department 'hamstrung' by laws

He said national government was being hamstrung by current laws in addressing the important issue of mental health on a national scale.

There is nothing wrong with South Africans reflecting 22 years into democracy on examining the country's laws and asking if authority should be transferred to the national government and the minister on this issue, Ramaphosa said.

He also defended government's overall record in healthcare, saying the life expectancy in South Africa has risen to 62 years of age as of 2016.

It was "somewhere in the 50s" when the ANC government took over in 1994.

The ANC government took over a fragmented healthcare system that abused people throughout the country, he said.

He concluded by saying Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is doing a good job under very difficult circumstances.

Read more on:    sassa  |  cyril rama­phosa  |  parliament  |  politics

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