Social Grant Payment Crisis: Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is on pins and needles amidst growing calls for her immediate resignation.
The latest call for Dlamini’s resignation came from the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) on Thursday. Cosatu criticized the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Dlamini for their cluelessness towards ensuring that social grants get paid come April 1.
The sentiment was earlier echoed by the Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane. He said in a statement that the social grant debacle is enough reason for the minister to resign or to be sacked.
The Department of Social Development and its agency SASSA have been making news headlines for the lack of readiness to take over the distribution and administration of social grants when the contract with CPS expires at the end of the month.
South African social grant payments are administered and distributed by Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), a subsidiary of US-based Net1 UEPS Technologies. The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) declared the CPS contract invalid after it emerged irregular tendering processes were followed in the awarding of the tender.
Despite attempts from Parliamentary entities to get answers on the way forward for payments, Bathabile and SASSA have been sketchy about the solutions that will be employed to prevent the potential disaster that will affect beneficiaries.
Last week, she failed to appear before the social development portfolio committee meeting for the second time. The meeting was scheduled to find a way to help the most vulnerable South Africans should the department fails to pay beneficiaries by April 1.
Weighing in, President Zuma said he wouldn’t like to see 17 million social grant beneficiaries inconvenienced come 1 April.
Also, the Democratic Alliance also called for Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to be fired and for Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to take the reins in the social grants crisis.
DA MP Bridget Masango said on Thursday that the party doesn’t trust Dlamini with the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans, and called on President Jacob Zuma to hand over the negotiations of the grants payment process to Gordhan.
“With only a month until the expiration of the Cash Paymaster Services contract… the eleventh hour withdrawal of Sassa’s Constitutional Court application by Minister Bathabile Dlamini is a clear display of her disdain for the law, and her firm commitment to disregard every piece of advice she has received from key government institutions and her legal counsel,” Masango said.
In response, the ANC Women’s League has dared COSATU to lay charges against Bathabile, describing the union as “irresponsible”.
The league’s secretary-general Moekgo Matuba slammed the union for making allegations that the Sassa-CPS matter smells of corruption.
“If Cosatu is prepared to lay criminal charges for CEO’s of companies involved in collusion, what stops them from laying charges on the alleged corruption on Sassa-CPS matter?
They are taking advantage of the current challenges the movement is facing and are driving wedges to position themselves for the coming ANC national elective conference 2017,” the league added.
In addition to the calls, the Methodist Church of Southern Africa said on Friday that it will be ideal for Dlamini to be fired.
Meanwhile, negotiation between the Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) is reportedly ongoing.