Dlamini denies undermining Sassa with parallel workstreams

2018-01-22 18:54
Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini. (Charl Devenish, Foto24)

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini. (Charl Devenish, Foto24)

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Midrand – Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini has denied that the workstreams she established were meant to undermine the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).

Dlamini was testifying at an inquiry into her personal role and liability in the social grants crisis in 2017. The inquiry was being held at the offices of the Chief Justice in Midrand on Monday.

The Constitutional Court ordered last year that an inquiry be held to investigate whether she should be held personally liable for the costs incurred during the Sassa payment crisis.

READ: Nothing 'sinister' about my decision, Dlamini tells Sassa debacle inquiry

Dlamini said it was "untrue" that the workstreams she established and which reported to her were meant to operate parallel to the work of Sassa or undermine the agency's work.

The inquiry, chaired by retired Judge Bernard Ngoepe, was established to investigate whether Dlamini sought the appointment of individuals to lead the various "workstreams" to report directly to her.

Further, the Constitutional Court ordered the inquiry to investigate the details of the appointments, such as when people were appointed, who they reported to, and the dates and contents of the report of the workstreams to the minister.

Lastly, the inquiry will also look into why the minister did not disclose this information to the court.

During cross-examination, Advocate Geoff Budlender, on behalf of Black Sash, which took Sassa to the Constitutional Court last year, argued that Dlamini's most important duty was to ensure that 17 million people on social grants received them on time.

Workstreams 'not relevant'

"The social grants programme affects 17 million South Africans every month. Can you also think of any other programme that affects 17 million South Africans every month?" Budlender asked Dlamini.

During the exchange, the minister insisted that all her work was important, despite Budlender's repeated attempts to have her answer the questions.

In a witness statement submitted by Dlamini, she explained why she failed to disclose to the Constitutional Court the reasons for establishing the workstreams and instructing them to report directly to her.

"The work of the workstreams, their composition, objectives, and technical reports were not, I believed, at issue or relevant to the question the court had raised," Dlamini said in the statement.

"This is all the more so because I regarded the workstreams to have been engaged by Sassa and to be completing technical work on behalf of Sassa."

Last year, former Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza said in an affidavit that the workstreams were given a broad mandate to take over the implementation of the project and that the social security agency was instructed not to interrupt or delay them in their work.

However, Dlamini said during her testimony that she was not aware that Magwaza or former social development director-general Zane Dangor considered the workstreams to be a parallel process to the work being done by Sassa.

Dlamini's cross-examination continues on Tuesday.

Read more on:    sassa  |  bathabile dlamini

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