Dlamini says 'patriarchy' is the reason MPs don't buy her Sassa story

2017-10-31 17:14
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. (Screengrab via YouTube)

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. (Screengrab via YouTube)

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Cape Town - Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini says "patriarchy" is the reason MPs don't believe her side of the story in the deadlock to sign a deal with the South African Post Office (SAPO).

Dlamini, SAPO CEO Mark Barnes, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and other role players appeared before a joint meeting in Parliament on Tuesday to discuss the collapsing deal.

The minister revealed in the meeting that an inter-government deal had still not been signed between the two entities, despite 13 interactions arguing for and against an agreement since July.

READ: Sassa, Post Office agree to 'sit through the night' to thrash out deal

The two sides agreed to meet on Tuesday evening in Cape Town "through the night" to thrash out a deal, after MPs registered their unhappiness with the report back.

Dlamini hinted to journalists after the meeting that MPs were unhappy with her side of the story because of "patriarchy".

"The most important thing I saw today (Tuesday) is issues of patriarchy, and who people believe when there are discussions," she said outside the meeting.

"Look at the responses, the difference between social development responses and other responses. You'll see what is at play."

Constitutional Court directive

She was also coy about the possibility of finally reaching a much-anticipated agreement, after questioning the Post Office's ability to deliver on banking functions.

"It's not a deal per se, it's about the capacity [of the Post Office] being able to do the work," she said on Tuesday.

Dlamini also said the reason social development had insisted on an open tender process rather than a straightforward inter-governmental agreement was because of the Constitutional Court's directive.

Inter-governmental deals do not need the stringent procedures required for an open tender to the private sector.

SAPO has hinted that should talks fail, it would revert to a deal offered by former Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza.

Dlamini said her department would cross that bridge when they get to it should SAPO decide to seek legal advice.

'Common sense should prevail'

SAPO's Barnes was cautious going into Tuesday's showdown talks.

"If everyone goes in there with an open mind, I think common sense will prevail," he told journalists.

"But if there are procedural issues or firm positions beyond which they won't go, of course we won't do a deal."

The Post Office did not want to be the exclusive handlers of the deal, he said.

If Sassa determined that cash payments systems could be handled by another entity, for instance, the Post Office wouldn't object, but making use of Postbank made the most sense, he added.

"There's little point in getting the Post Office to develop an IT system. That's probably the weakest of all our points.

"We're not saying we are the only place in which you have to do this. We're just saying, we are a state-owned structure: use us."

Not a business, but a public service

He said he'd prefer the matter to be resolved sooner than later, adding that Sassa would be surprised at how many other companies want or can deliver on the deal, given the vast scale of the project.

The deal wasn't a business opportunity, he said, but "a public service, and should be treated as such".

He didn't want to be drawn on the possibility of talks failing, because he wanted them to succeed, he said.

National Treasury has said it would observe the discussions, while Dlamini said she would be checking in periodically to see how talks are progressing.

The officials have until 18:00 on Wednesday to report back on any progress made.

Only five months remain for Sassa to appoint a suitable service provider for the social grants scheme by March 31, 2018, as ordered by the Constitutional Court.

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

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