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Sassa refutes claims CEO Magwaza has been suspended

The department says Thokozani Magwaza did not attend the meeting in Parliament earlier on Tuesday because he is on sick leave.

FILE: Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza. Picture: Twitter/@OfficialSASSA.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - The Social Development Department says claims that CEO Thokozani Magwaza has been suspended are insensitive and invasive to his privacy.

The department says Magwaza did not attend the meeting in Parliament earlier on Tuesday because he is on sick leave.

National Development Agency CEO Thamo Mzobe is covering for Magwaza in his absence.

South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi has denied claims that Magwaza has been fired, saying they are lies created by malicious people.

“We don’t know where these people who are spreading this news are getting them from and it’s so disappointing to see that they do not have the decency to contact the spokesperson of Sassa.”

He has reiterated the need for an interim CEO, saying it is unclear how long Magwaza is scheduled to be away.

“When a person who is holding a position is not around, someone has is supposed to act because the wheels of government cannot stop because a person is not at work.”

Parliament committee on public accounts chair Nelson Godi was concerned.

“It’s quite worrying that in the midst of negotiations on a matter this critical, the CEO is on sick leave. Is he sick because of the magnitude of this problem or what?”

Letsatsi says a number of organisations including the Post Office have been approached as plans to ensure grants are paid out on 1 April continue.

Meanwhile, with serious concerns around the future of social grants, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is preparing to answer burning questions on the crisis on Wednesday while the Black Sash movement has announced its going to the Constitutional Court over the matter.

The human rights organisation says its asked the court to supervise the renewal of the contract with Cash Paymasters Services and its terms to ensure more than 17 million people continue to get their welfare payments in April after the current contract ends.

Earlier on Tuesday, Sassa officials told Parliament’s committee on public accounts that no plan is in place for the continuation of payouts.

Committee member Tim Brauteseth questioned Mzobo on key issues.

“Do you not see that it is inappropriate that an advisory committee that is trying to assist the minister in accounts payment system then appoint themselves to do the work stream to try to get the system online? Do you not see that inappropriate?”

Mzobo had trouble answering.

“You come to me in fiduciary capacity and you ask Tim what is your advice on such and such? And then I tell you this is my advice and by the way, my company can do it for you. Do you think that is appropriate?”

While Mzobo battle to get the answer out, Brauteseth added, “Clearly, you’re undecided.”

However, just an hour later Dlamini gave an assurance that no glitches are expected but failed to elaborate.

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