Political parties were forced to cancel an important meeting scheduled to hold on Wednesday due to Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini’s trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she is reportedly attending a two-day AU Summit.
Dlamini was billed to meet with the portfolio committee on social development to update them on the progress her department has made so far in taking over the distribution of social grants.
Recently, the Constitutional Court stipulated that the Department of Social Development must now bear the responsibility of paying millions of rands to grant beneficiaries and should no longer rely on their service provider NET1/CPS. The Department was given until April 1 to do so.
But an evidence showed that the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) – which falls under the tutelage of the Social Development Department – is not ready to take over the distribution of 17 million grants by the April 1 deadline. Thus, the reason for the meeting.
The DA’s social development spokesperson, Bridget Masango slammed Minister Bathabile for abandoning her ministerial duty for ANC meeting.
Masango said: “It is shameful that Dlamini would rather attend to party business than make herself available for an important parliamentary committee meeting on the distribution of social grants by Sassa.”
“It is now becoming increasingly obvious why the chairperson of the portfolio committee rushed to cancel this important meeting, which was scheduled to take place today.”
IFP spokesperson on social development, Liezl van der Merwe, lambasted the minister for misleading Parliament. Van der Merwe explained that MPs were misled into believing that Dlamini would be attending the ANC’s party lekgotla, while she left for ANC business outside South Africa.
She said the minister’s no-show at Parliament today was an indication that this looming national crisis was of no interest to her.
Van der Merwe added: “It is also patently clear that the minister has absolutely no plan to mitigate the crisis. Considering her conduct in dealing with this matter, it is also clear that she is no longer fit to be the minister of social development.”
Meanwhile, her office has downplayed claims that she has no interest in the looming crisis. Interim Social Development spokesperson Bathembu Futshane maintained she was on official government business at AU’s invitation.
“The minister is currently attending an official trip, a sitting of the AU in Addis. She was invited there on behalf of the Department of Social Development.
The approval was given by the president and we have confirmation in writing to prove it. It is, therefore, not true that. The minister is due back in the country tomorrow,” Futshane explained.
Social development spokespersons Lumka Oliphant and Justice Malapane were unavailable for comment.