Dlamini has until month end to explain her conduct in grants payment crisis
Minister Bathabile Dlamini is expected to file an affidavit to explain why she shouldn't be held personally liable for the debacle.
JOHANNESBURG – Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has until the end of this month to explain her conduct regarding the social grant payment crisis to the Constitutional Court.
Dlamini is expected to file an affidavit to explain why she shouldn't be held personally liable for the debacle.
The court has extended the current contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) for one year, as the current contract expires at the end of March and adequate plans were not put in place to ensure a new distributor could take over.
The Constitutional Court has delivered stringent orders for both Sassa and Dlamini, saying independent experts will also monitor their progress to ensure grants are distributed in the future.
Justice Johan Barnes said the minister ignored warnings of a looming crisis.
“There’s no indication on the papers before us that she showed any interest in Sassa’s progress before that, despite repeated warnings from advising council and CPS.
“Neither Sassa nor the minister took any steps to inform the court of the problems they were experiencing.”
DLAMINI TO COMPLY
Dlamini said she will comply with the Constitutional Court’s orders, saying she apologises for the stress she caused to millions of social grant beneficiaries.
The 17 million social grant beneficiaries are completely dependent on the money they receive from Sassa and now they can breathe a sigh of relief.
The court has taken an unsympathetic view of Sassa and Dlamini’s conduct over the social grant payment crisis.
While Dlamini has apologised to the beneficiaries, the court has ordered her to explain her conduct by the end of this month.
Justice Johan Froneman explained: “The minister is called upon to show cause on affidavit why she should not be joint in her personal capacity and she should not pay costs of the application from her own pocket.”
Sassa and CPS have been ordered to report back to the court every three months on the progress made on finding a new company to distribute social grants.
Dlamini has apologised unreservedly to millions of grant beneficiaries for the anxiety she put them through over the payment issue.
She said 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 Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza said 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.
Magwaza said 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 was 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.
(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)