Cape Town - Welfare Minister Bathabile Dlamini denied she was responsible for failing to ensure plans are in place to dispense welfare grants to more more than 17 million people when an existing disbursement contract with Net 1 UEPS Technologies ends on March 31.
She assured recipients that payments won’t be disrupted.
While Net 1’s contract was ruled invalid by the Constitutional Court in 2014, the welfare agency failed to appoint a replacement to comply with the court ruling and it is currently negotiating a new contract with the company’s Cash Paymaster Services unit, potentially circumventing the earlier court order.
A tender process was run over a period of two years to try and comply with the court ruling and appoint a new contractor but none of the five bidders were able to do the work, Dlamini told members of Parliament’s public accounts committee, who grilled her about the crisis and demanded that she be held accountable.
Some government and welfare agency officials who were responsible for putting a new payment system in place failed to complete their work on time and underestimated the scope of the job, the minister said.
"The executive get blamed when the officials do not do their work," she said. “I am trying to move quicker. Grants will be paid on the first of April.”
The Congress of South African Trade Unions, the country’s biggest labour body, and the opposition Democratic Alliance party, have called for Dlamini to be fired.
Mbuyseni Ndlozi, a lawmaker for the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters, said at the hearing that Dlamini had failed to ensure officials did their jobs properly, raising doubts over whether she is fit to hold office.Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter: Fin24’s top stories