National Assembly debates Bathabile Dlamini’s future as minister

The National Assembly is debating the removal of the Social Development minister over her handling of the social grant payment situation.

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

PARLIAMENT - The National Assembly is on Tuesday afternoon debating the removal of Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini over her handling of the social grant payment situation.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)'s Liezel van der Merwe has called for the house to discuss what steps are being taken to address the payment of grants from the first of April.

On Tuesday morning, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts that a joint task team of ministers dealing with the social grants situation had a clear process to follow to find a longer term and legal way to pay beneficiaries.

“Firstly, how do we make sure payment happens on 1 April? Secondly, set up a negotiating process for whatever way forward is determined through the deviation process, and thirdly, to ensure what’s the most appropriate model. That appropriate model must consider all of the options that the honourable members have mentioned.”

WATCH LIVE: Parliament debates social grants debacle


Dlamini has hit back at criticism over her handling of the grants crisis, saying her detractors are using propaganda to confuse South Africans.

“The opposition claims that there is a crisis at Sassa, are therefore, nothing but mere self-serving propaganda and political grandstanding of the highest order. They must stop with their scare campaign which has caused public panic and anxiety.”

Dlamini has told MPs there is no crisis around next month’s payment of social grants, without offering any explanation as to how they will be paid out.

She says her department has worked hard over the last 10 years.

“The agency has touched and changed many lives of our people for the better, despite the challenges the agency experienced in its infant stage. It has and continues, without fail, to deliver on its core mandate to providing a cushion to the poor against the economic shocks and factors beyond their control.”

Her address has been marred by points of orders, with questions from opposition parties including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Democratic Alliance (DA), asking whether she could take a question but she refused.

A DA MP rose on a point or order: “Will the minister take a simple question?”

Dlamini hastily responded: “No!”

But a member of the EFF stood up and accused her of contravening rules of the House.

An EFF members added: “The refusal of the minister to take a question is actually a violation of the right of this House, to hold the minister accountable. Can the minister take a simple question, please.”

_WATCH: Dlamini: Social grants will be paid _

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange and Winnie Theletsane)