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Bathabile Dlamini: I'm sorry

Minister Bathabile Dlamani apologised to grant beneficiaries for anxiety caused, saying the 'winners' the court judgment are the people of South Africa.

FILE: Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has apologised unreservedly to millions of grant beneficiaries for the anxiety she put them through over the payment issue.

She says the 'winners' of Friday’s Constitutional Court judgment are the people of South Africa.

Dlamini’s spokesperson Lumka Olifant said: “This is not a victory for any individual, but the social grant beneficiaries who are going to get their grants on 1 April. The minister wishes to apologise to the beneficiaries for the anxiety and fear that they had to ensure during the past few weeks.”

At the same time, the South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) CEO Thokozani Magwaza says 12 months is sufficient time for the agency to find another suitable organisation to distribute social grants and he’s not yet ruled out the possibility of using the Post Office.

The Constitutional Court on Friday extended the contract between Sassa and service provider Cash Paymaster Service (CSP) for up to a year - to ensure that 17 million South Africans are paid their grants next month.

It declared the contract invalid in 2014, but both Sassa and Dlamini failed to ensure a plan was in place for a new distributor to take over.

Magwaza says they have faith in CPS to continue distributing grants for the next 12 months and plans will be put in place to find another company.

“Twelve months is enough time for us. There’s the issue of the Post Office and we have not discouraged that they are ready, we’re going to test that.”

He is unable to say when or if Sassa itself will be able to take over the payment system in the future.

For the time being, CPS will continue distributing the grants as the suspension of the invalid contract has been extended, meaning it will operate under the same terms and conditions.

Meanwhile, Dlamini will have to explain to the court by the end of the month why she shouldn’t be held personally liable for the crisis.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

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