The delayed signing of the social pension grants contract that will enable poor South Africans to receive their stipulated pay, has turned out to be a very controversial issue between South Africans and the Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
But in a statement after a closed-door meeting between the president and both the finance minister and Dlamini, the president urged South Africans to give the minister more time to address the issue.
Zuma’s call to give the minister a chance came at the time South Africans registered their dissatisfaction in her services and therefore demanded that she resign.
Describing calls for Dlamini’s axing as premature, Zuma asked concerned South Africans to remain calm and wait for the appointed time for the payment because there was no way the country could fail to pay its pensioners.
“I would suggest that the nation should really calm down and wait for the date. Others are calling, for example, for the dismissal of the minister, but the date has not come. How do you judge a person before the event? I think it is somewhat worrying that people seem to be having preconceived ideas on the matter,” said the president.
On Sunday, Bathabile Dlamini had a heated discussion with journalists in a media briefing as they tried to force her to answer questions about the controversial social grant contract which she failed to sign, three years after the Constitutional Court ordered her department to take over the distribution of pension grants.
Despite strong insistence by the journalists, the minister ended up giving a sketchy answer on the matter, she said that no deal had been reached yet.
Meanwhile, political analysts who commented amid growing calls for Dlamini to step aside or be fired as the country is gripped by anxiety over whether the grants will be paid on April 1, said she has failed to come up with a plan on how social grant beneficiaries will be paid.
One of the analysts, Daniel Silke said that what was lacking in the country was accountability at the top political level. “There is no culture of accountability, and as a result, ministers get away with not performing.” While another, Ralph Mathekga, said the situation required “symbolic consequence” but the handling of the saga could not be resolved by getting rid of Bathabile Dlamini.
“You must not single out the minister. It is bigger and involves more than one department. There is a lot of politics involved here,” Mathekga said, pointing out that the department ought to make plans and appoint new service provider without disrupting the payment of grants to recipients next month.
Minister Bathabile Dlamini At a Parliamentary Scopa Briefing
Again, Dlamini has during a Parliamentary Scopa briefing, hesitated to answer questions with clarity, thereby frustrating the MPs and committee members.
Hours after her department announced that social grant would be paid through the Cash Payment Service (CPS), the minister stood three hours before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts to explain how her department landed in the last-minute quandary.
Dlamini says the deal has not yet been signed, but she’s again given the assurance that grants will be paid on 1 April but blamed the media for confusion over the matter but also apologized for the way the grants debacle has been handled.