‘I’m not a macho bully’ – former DG lashes out at Bathabile

Zane Dangor (left) and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini
File picture: Halden Krog

Former director-general in the Department of Social Development Zane Dangor has revealed the hurtful allegations of racism and sexism that led to his resignation.

Dangor quit last month amid the social grants crisis‚ citing a breakdown in the relationship between himself and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.

In an affidavit filed with the Constitutional Court on Monday‚ Dangor confirmed South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) CEO Thokozani Magwaza’s claim that Dlamini had created a parallel structure to Sassa‚ which reported directly to her.

Dangor said the parallel structure was designed to ensure that the controversial social grants contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) was extended. The Constitutional Court in 2014 ruled that the CPS contract to distribute social grants was invalid. But last month the court allowed the deal to continue for another 12 months after the department failed to find another contractor and after Sassa failed to take over the process.

Dlamini had claimed to be ignorant of the problems unfolding at Sassa but Magwaza disputed this.

In annexures also submitted to the Constitutional Court‚ Dangor included his resignation letter addressed to Dlamini‚ stating that he was forced to resign from his position after Dlamini read him the riot act in front of other staff members.

“The manner in which you addressed me in front of staff members of Sassa and the DSD‚ albeit telephonically‚ diminished me as a person and also‚ undermined my continued abilities to provide leadership and guidance in the Department and Sassa‚” the letter reads.

“This was followed up by two SMS messages that essentially claimed that I had been party to shaping the National Treasury’s ideas on the payment of social grants going forward‚ that I was macho and racist in that I was undermining the work and advancement of African women in particular.

“The allegations of being racist and sexist are without any basis whatsoever and are allegations that I find deeply insulting and injurious to my person.”

Dangor gave a detailed account of various meetings that transpired and his efforts to ensure that Sassa complied with the law in its obligation to social grant beneficiaries.

Dlamini has blamed Sassa officials for the grants fiasco‚ fingering Magwaza specifically. But Dangor said Magwaza was not to blame.

“These processes serve to confirm that Mr Magwaza cannot be blamed for non-compliance with filing a document with the Constitutional Court as suggested by the Minister’s affidavit‚” Dangor says in his affidavit.

“It further serves to strengthen the views that Mr Magwaza‚ others and I held that the parallel decision-making structures in the form of the workstreams may have been deliberate to ensure a continued relationship with CPS under conditions favourable to CPS‚ through a self-created emergency.”

Dangor said that he had chosen to break his silence after the grants debacle defiled his principles around social protection for the poor.

“I have deposed this affidavit‚ despite potential repercussions to my personal career and notwithstanding veiled physical violence to my family’s security. I do so‚ to shed a brighter light on the assertions that the SASSA and Magwaza are to blame for the crisis that unfolded.”

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