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Ramaphosa tries to ease grant payout fears, calls for Dlamini to go remain

The deputy president faced a barrage of questions on social grants in the National Assembly on Thursday.

South Africa's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa listens during discussions at a Brand South Africa briefing at the World Economic Forum in Switerland on 17 January 2017. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has moved to reassure the country the looming crisis over the payment of grants to 17 million beneficiaries will be resolved.

He faced a barrage of questions on the issue in the National Assembly on Thursday.

Negotiations on a new contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) are set to be concluded on Friday.

Ramaphosa would not be drawn on whether Dlamini is fit to hold office, saying she serves at the prerogative of the president.

Inkatha Freedom Party’s Mkuleko Hlengwa accused Dlamini of lacking accountability and responsibility.

Hlengwa says Dlamini’s plan to give CPS a new contract for the payment of grants in unacceptable.

“Where does it fit in that they get R3.2 billion into the agenda of radical economic transformation? Taking money here and going abroad, it seems like government is taking from both sides of its mouth here.”

Ramaphosa has told members of Parliament that he’s unaware of the company’s shareholding but says he expects it is well empowered.

The deputy president also deflected a debate on Dlamini's fitness to hold office, saying he was confident the Constitutional Court would make the right decision.

Ramaphosa said the matter was also being dealt with at the highest level of government and opposition parties should allow the Social Development Department to do its work.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) wanted to know how many times Ramaphosa had asked Dlamini to appear before the National Assembly and the Portfolio Committee on Social Development since 2014.

But Ramaphosa batted away the question, saying Parliament had more rights to call MPs to account than he did as the leader of government business.

This opened up a debate on the social grants issue with DA leader Mmusi Maimane calling for Dlamini's resignation.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM)'s Bantu Holomisa also questioned her fitness to hold office.

In response, Ramaphosa said he's confident the matter is receiving the necessary attention.

“It’s a matter of enormous proportions… many of our people are concerned, but the matter is being dealt with and I’m absolutely certain a solution is going to be found.”

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)