Zuma: If I fire Dlamini, who will deliver court-ordered grants scheme?

2017-11-02 20:55
Bathabile Dlamini (File, City Press)

Bathabile Dlamini (File, City Press)

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Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma said he cannot fire Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, as she is responsible for delivering a new social grants scheme, as ordered by the Constitutional Court.

Zuma faced his last question session in Parliament for the year on Thursday, and was met with the customary resistance from opposition MPs. The EFF, however, boycotted the session once more.

#ZumaQandA: Laughs and screams as MPs demand answers - AS IT HAPPENED

DA leader Mmusi Maimane asked Zuma: "Why have you kept Minister Dlamini in her job?", as the deadlock in a deal between the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the South African Post Office continues.

Five months remain for Sassa to find a new social grants distribution service provider, but the deal with the Post Office has stalled.

"If you remove her, who is going to implement the order?" Zuma responded to applause from the ANC benches.

"She has been directed to deliver on the order of the Constitutional Court. What will I say to the Constitutional Court if I shift this minister?

"That's why she's there, to do so."

'Why are you defending apartheid?'

Earlier in his response, Zuma said that poverty was a direct result of apartheid, and that the grants scheme was part of the "ANC's solution" to fight it.

Just before Maimane asked his question about firing Dlamini, he had chirped: "Mr President, what's not a problem of apartheid is Minister Bathabile Dlamini. She is incompetent. She simply cannot do the job of delivering grants to South Africans."

Zuma quickly responded: "I don't know why the honourable member is saying this is not the problem of apartheid. Why are you defending apartheid? You were a victim of apartheid, why are you defending it?"

"I never said that!" Maimane replied.

Dlamini and Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu were seen smiling and heckling following Zuma's deflection.

"They should not start wandering [when asking questions], I'm going to follow their wandering," Zuma continued to laughter from ANC MPs.

"You come with meanders, I answer with meanders. Ask the question plainly, I will answer the question plainly."

Zuma repeated that the ministers were not the problem, as apartheid had created the problem of poverty.

Gigaba called in

In response to IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe, Zuma said, as head of Treasury, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba would oversee the talks with the Post Office.

As chairperson of the inter-ministerial committee looking into the grants matter, Zuma said he was confident the matter would be resolved.

"Right now, I have talked to the minister of finance on one part of many things that have been resolved.

"This is being addressed. The minister is meeting both departments to discuss the problem. We have to solve it. We have no alternative," Zuma conceded.

A joint meeting on Wednesday evening heard that Sassa and the Post Office could not reach a deal, following four meetings in 30 hours.

Treasury has been asked to set up a team with the Reserve Bank and the two entities to review the deal. The team has been given a week to do so and then report back on any progress they make.

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Read more on:    sassa  |  da  |  anc  |  bathabile dlamini  |  jacob zuma  |  politics  |  social grants

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