Sassa crisis: Presidency summons social development DG

2017-03-01 13:20

* This article has been updated

Cape Town - The director general of the Department of Social Development has been summoned to speak with the presidency.

Director general Zane Dangor on Thursday was excused from the portfolio committee on social development.

Acting committee chairperson Home Malgas announced that he was summoned to Pretoria.

Dangor told journalists during a break in the meeting that he was not sure of the details of the Presidency's request.

This followed the news, brought up in the committee by DA MP Evelyn Wilson, that Sassa had just withdrawn its application to the Constitutional Court to give it guidance on the CPS contract issue.

Presidency spokesperson Dr Bongani Ngqulunga though on Thursday said the president does not meet with director generals of departments, but only meets with ministers.

"On Sassa or the department of social development matters he speaks to Minister Bathabile Dlamini," Ngqulunga said.

"The minister is keeping the president briefed on development regarding the Sassa matter. The president is keen that social grant beneficiaries should not be inconvenienced on April 1, 2017."

Dangor told News24 that there had been a misunderstanding, and the he wasn't summoned to speak to the President, but the President's spokesperson.

"You know when the presidency calls you've got to answer."

He said the hurried way in which he asked to leave the meeting was misunderstood.

Read more: Zuma not meeting social development DG - Presidency

The department always intended to file a supplementary report with a statement of intent to the Constitutional court, Dangor said.

Minister Bathabile Dlamini always supported the statement of intent report, he said in answer to a question from News24.

He added he did not know the details of why the application was withdrawn, and will consult with the department when he flies back to Pretoria.

He also said that the absence of current CEO Thokozani Magwaza has nothing to do with the botched application at the Constitutional Court.

As far as he knows, Magwaza is ill, and not suspended, as reported in the media, he told News24.

CPS negotiations have begun

Sassa, meanwhile, has begun new contract negotiations with Cash Paymaster Services for the distribution of 17 millions social grants, MPs heard.

Sassa executive manager for grant payments Dianne Dunkerley told the portfolio committee that negotiations had begun in Pretoria on Wednesday and would conclude on Friday.

The negotiation would include terms on the ownership of beneficiary data, and transaction charges.

"I'm not able to say anything more at this stage, but do commit to give a fuller report to the committee next week."

Dunkerley said the department had committed to submitting a report to the Constitutional Court, which is currently being dealt with by lawyers, and more details would be furnished next week.

The portfolio committee expressed its dismay that information was revealed on Tuesday during a Scopa meeting that had not been revealed to the portfolio committee.

Dunkerley and Dangor both said their options had not changed in that regard, and that Sassa was not ready.

Dangor said CPS, although not the most desired option, was the most practical option at the moment.

He said, if all else failed, 90% of the beneficiaries had bank accounts with Grindrod Bank. For the other 10%, they would have to deal with Post Bank, and physical pay points to distribute cash.

* A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Dangor had spoken to the president. It was the president's spokesperson. Acting chairperson Hope Malgas announced to the committee that he was summoned to Pretoria.

Read more on:    sassa  |  bathabile dlamini  |  zane dangor  |  parliament 2017

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