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Zuma apologises unreservedly to all South Africans following social grants saga

President Zuma says the government deeply regrets the undue anxiety which resulted from the uncertainty over grant distribution.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG – President Jacob Zuma says while he’s determined to chair the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) to ensure the order of the Constitutional Court on the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) matter is implemented efficiently, he apologises unreservedly to all South Africans.

President Zuma says the government deeply regrets the undue anxiety which resulted from the uncertainty over grant distribution.

The highest court in the land has extended the current contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and Sassa for one year to ensure social grant beneficiaries receive money come 1 April, as the current contract expires at the end of March.

The Presidency’s Bongani Ngqulunga says, “President Zuma wants to assure all grants beneficiaries that government will implement the directive of the Constitutional Court and uphold the Constitutional rights of the poor and vulnerable in our society.

“President Zuma says government deeply regrets the undue anxiety that resulted from the uncertainty over grants distribution. He has apologised unreservedly to all South Africans.”

Zuma said he has expanded his IMC to make sure that social grants are monitored and the Constitutional Court's order on the matter is implemented.

But the president said the court has now given clear instructions on the extension of the grants distribution and the parameters within which government must operate.

Zuma’s spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said, “The president has directed the IMC on comprehensive social security to ensure that the order of the court is implemented efficiently and diligently in its entirety.”

He added that beyond the court order, the president said the IMC will also focus on comprehensive social security reform.

PUBLIC PROTECTOR TO INVESTIGATE

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says she has made contact with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, notifying them of her intention to investigate the Sassa matter.

The office’s Oupa Segalwe says the Public Protector will also be adding the Democratic Alliance’s complaint over the alleged relationship between Dlamini and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to her own investigation.

On Friday the court extended the current contract, between CPS and Sassa by one year to ensure beneficiaries receive their grants on time.

The minister has come under fire for not appointing a new cash distributor with earlier concerns over grants not being paid.

Despite her apology on Friday, Dlamini still faces paying the costs of the Constitutional Court proceedings.

Segalwe says, “She was going to focus on the apparent undue delays on the part of Sassa and Social Development to implement the decision of the Constitutional Court.”

Segalwe says the investigation will look at who was responsible for the crisis and the relationship with CPS.

He says while the relevant ministers have been contacted, he cannot give a deadline for the investigation yet because of the multiple procedures that need to be followed in acquiring and processing information.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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