ANC structures appear divided on Bathabile Dlamini

The ANC’s military veterans association has expressed its confidence in the minister, while the ANC Youth League refuses to enter the debate.

FILE: Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG – As calls increase for Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to be axed over the social grant fiasco, African National Congress (ANC) structures are divided on how the minister must be held accountable.

The ANC’s military veterans association has expressed its confidence in the minister, saying she is one of the best.

On Sunday, the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association’s (MKMVA) held a briefing in Johannesburg following its national executive committee meeting.

Two alliance partners of the ANC, Congress of South African Unions and the South African Communist Party, were the first to call for Dlamini’s head.

The ANC Women’s League came out in her defence and the MKMVA is with the league on this one.

MKMVA treasury-general Des van Rooyen said, “The department under the leadership of the minister is quite capable and has demonstrated this over a period of time. It’s quite capable to handle this particular situation.”

The ANC Youth League refuses to enter the debate on whether Dlamini must go or not, except to say she must ensure grants are paid on the first of April.

This while the mother body itself remains silent on the matter.

SCRAMBLE TO PAY GRANTS

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) is scrambling to ensure that as many as 17 million people continue to receive their money, despite concerns that retaining the existing service provider is both unlawful and costly.

For millions of South Africa’s most vulnerable, Sassa money is often the difference between an empty or a full belly.

“We will continue paying social grants beyond 31 March when the contract with the current service provider comes to an end,” Dlamini said.

“As has been the case in the past, no one will go unpaid.”

Dlamini said the South African Post Office’s more than 2,600 outlets will be used as one of the payment services for social security in the transition and future phases.

In an attempt to resolve the looming crisis, President Jacob Zuma held talks on Saturday with Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan and Dlamini to ensure that social security payments are made from 1 April.

The existing contract, run by Cash Paymaster Services, part of technology company Net1 1 UEPS Technologies, has been in doubt since South Africa's highest court ruled in 2014 that the tender process to acquire its services was unlawful. It ordered that a new contract be negotiated.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)