‘Dlamini knew Sassa could not pay grants’

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini
File picture: Ruvan Boshoff

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini “had known since July 2015 of inadequacies in the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to pay grant recipients on its own”.

Furthermore‚ “Dlamini was in control of the process of Sassa taking over grant payments”. She appointed individuals who reported directly to her.

Sassa was told not to “interrupt” the implementation process she was in charge of. And she told the chief executive to instead “concentrate on the daily operation of the agency”.

This is contained in an affidavit filed by Sassa chief executive Thokozani Magwaza in the Constitutional Court yesterday.

Magwaza sought to deal with aspects raised in an affidavit filed by Dlamini last Friday which he said reflected on him negatively and which were incorrect.

In that affidavit‚ Dlamini said it was only in October last year that she had become aware Sassa would not be in a position to pay social grants by March 31 this year.

“It was only at that point that it became apparent to me that the undertaking made to the court on November 5 2015 was unattainable.

“Before that date‚ I was genuinely unaware that the undertakings were not capable of attainment‚” she said.

Dlamini filed that affidavit in answer to the court’s question on why she should not personally be joined in the proceedings by the Black Sash‚ and why she should not be ordered to pay the costs of the application from her own pocket.

The Black Sash Trust approached the court in March‚ after Sassa’s acknowledgement it would not be able to pay millions of grants from April 1‚ despite promising the court in November 2015 it would do so.

The court had‚ in 2014‚ declared that the 2012 contract Sassa signed with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for the payment of social grants was invalid because of tender irregularities.

The court suspended its order of invalidity on the premise that Sassa would find new contractors to pay grants from April 1 2017‚ or that it would make payments on its own.

In his affidavit Magwaza said Dlamini had‚ in July 2015‚ directed Sassa to appoint work streams to deal with the plan to pay grant recipients.

But Dlamini appointed individuals in the work streams who would report directly to her and she would retain direct control of the implementation process.

Sassa was instructed not to interrupt these work streams‚ which were given a broad mandate to take over the implementation of the project‚ Magwaza said.

Dlamini told Magwaza on February 20 this year at an executive committee of Sassa that he should concentrate on the day-to-day operations of the agency.

Dlamini said the work streams she had appointed would sort out Sassa’s plan to pay social grants.

Magwaza said the first time that Sassa’s executive management interacted with the work streams was in October last year.

Magwaza said before his appointment as chief executive in November last year and to date‚ the work stream leaders took instructions from and reported directly to the minister through project leader Zodwa Mvulane.

“I need to make the point that since July 2015‚ the minister understood the issues‚ was in control of the process or knew or ought to have known of all developments in this important process and matter‚” Magwaza said.

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