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Zuma to face MPs in first Q&A session for 2017

The president returns to the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon where he's expected to address the crisis surrounding the payment of social grants.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma in Parliament. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma returns to the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon to answer questions where he's expected to address the crisis surrounding the payment of social grants.

Last week, Zuma expressed confidence that the grants would be paid on 1 April, reiterating that there is no crisis and urging the country to cool down.

But on Wednesday, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng described the situation as a crisis, questioning why Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini did not do more to address it.

Zuma will be answering questions in the National Assembly for the first time this year from MPs. He's required to do so at least four times a year.

Leader of the opposition Mmusi Maimane wants Zuma to spell out what action he’s taking to ensure members of his executive display accountability, integrity and respect for the public and the law.

Building on this theme, the Inkatha Freedom Party wants to know what steps Zuma plans to take against Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini in light of the social grants saga.

The National Freedom Party is asking what Zuma's plans are for former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe and whether he will be made a Cabinet minister, given the findings of the Public Protector's report on state capture.

ANC MPs are giving Zuma an easier ride, with questions about the role of industry and organised labour in growing the economy and the national infrastructure programme.

There's a question mark over whether the Economic Freedom Fighters will try to prevent Zuma from speaking.

Meanwhile, ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize says the grants saga threatens a social safety net meant to assist the most vulnarable people of this country.

Mkhize says he hopes everything is done to ensure that the beneficiaries are paid on 1 April.

He was speaking at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg on Wednesday night.

Mkhize says the best way to resolve the Sassa issue going forward is to put the payment technology used by Cash Paymaster Services in the hands of government.

“Sassa needs to get the necessary technology to carry out the payments, even if it means buying it. Government needs to take responsibility for that.”

Mkhize says this will solve the question of competitiveness.

“Because of the nature of the sophistication of the system, you may find it difficult to find competitors.”

On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court slammed Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini for letting the Sassa situation turn into a crisis.

[FROM THE ARCHIVES] WATCH: EFF leaves Zuma Q&A session

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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