While news of a delayed payment of social grant lingers, Social development minister Bathabile Dlamini has rubbished claims that the Social development department is in crisis, saying the SASSA crisis was a lie from the media.
Speaking to the media on Sunday during her urgent press conference, the minister refused to answer questions on how government plans to pay grants for from April but went ahead to announce that the said SASSA crisis in her department were mere speculations from the media.
Although the department of social development had on Friday reached an agreement to secure a contract to distribute grants with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), The department is still faced with the challenge of getting the approval of the treasury who appears not to accept the idea yet.
Coupled with the fact that Treasury officials insist the deal can only be condoned if it is within the law and the allocated budget, the SASSA top officials seems to be in battle with Dlamini who they accused of deliberately blocking all attempts to resolve the impasse.
The SASSA crisis seems to be the base prompting the shocking resignation of the department’s director-general Zane Dangor.
At the urgent press briefing which was expected to address issues within the department, Dlamini shied away from the main topic only to read out a nine-page statement that contained no new information.
In her statement, Dlamini reiterated three times that the lifeline social grants for 17 million people would be paid come April 1, but never said how that would – or could legally – be achieved.
“On the first of April Sassa begins a new era in continued development,” Dlamini said. “As has been the case in the past no one will go unpaid,” she said but noted nearly immediately, that there was not yet an “interim” contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to handle the payment of grants come April 1.
Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma summoned Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to his official residence in Pretoria on Saturday in a last-ditch effort to resolve the social grants debacle that has put the welfare of 17 million people at risk.
At the meeting, Zuma reportedly appeared to have sided with his political ally, Dlamini. Sources privy to the proceedings said, as part of the outcomes, the department will soon announce a new deal with CPS.
“There is a general agreement that we need CPS to continue in one form or another. The meeting agreed that in the interim you do need CPS,” one senior official told Sunday times soon after the meeting was concluded.
Zuma’s spokesman, Bongani Ngqulunga, who refused to go details the meeting proceedings, said the president had instructed the two ministers to co-operate with each other. “The president directed the two ministers to make sure social grants recipients are paid on April 1,” said Ngqulunga.
The president also directed that technical teams from the two departments look at a draft agreement between the department and CPS.
SASSA Crisis: A proof that ANC hates the Poor
While South Africans await a positive outcome of Zuma’s meeting with Dlamini and Gordhan, trade union NUMSA has condemned the brewing crisis surrounding the grant payment system at the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) saying its a further proof that the ANC government hates the poor and the working class of South Africa.
“The Department of Social Development which is tasked with taking care of the most vulnerable members of society is showing us that it simply doesn’t care about the majority of the people in our country‚” said NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim.
“We are at a point where we have no idea whether 17 million South Africans will receive their social grant payments at the beginning of April. The SASSA crisis is self-made and it seems clear to us as NUMSA that this was intentional.”
First of all the minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini must be removed immediately‚ and Dlamini together with senior officials must be criminally investigated to establish whether the delay in awarding a service provider was indeed deliberate‚ as reported by several media houses‚ Jim added.