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Inquiry into whether Dlamini should pay for social grants saga to kick off

Commission to establish if Bathabile Dlamini is responsible for the social grants debacle.
Commission to establish if Bathabile Dlamini is responsible for the social grants debacle.
Image: KYLE COWAN

An inquiry into whether Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini should be held personally liable for the social grants debacle will kick off in January.

The Constitutional Court earlier this year ordered that an inquiry be established to set out Dlamini’s roles and responsibilities as social development minister.

The court found that it could not make an “adverse” order against the minister on the basis of allegations that have not been tested.

The court ordered that all parties involved in the matter appoint a judge to investigate whether Dlamini should be held liable for the grants saga.

Retired judge Bernard Ngoepe has since been appointed to investigate the matter.

The Black Sash Trust approached the court in March after the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) acknowledged 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 organisation wanted the court to resume its supervisory jurisdiction for the payment of social grants.

“In September‚ all parties involved met with the judge and he gave directions. He requested the parties to submit documents. That has now been done and the judge has given all parties an opportunity to scrutinise the documents.”

She said the parties have until November 10 to request additional documents.

“The actual inquiry will start late in January 2018‚” she said.

Patel said Black Sash was concerned that the Sassa will not meet the deadline set by the Constitutional Court to find another service provider to facilitate the payment of social grants.

“The biggest concern is that they are not working hard enough to make sure there is plan. That could lead to contempt of court‚” Patel said.

In March‚ the Constitutional Court ruled that an invalid contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) be extended until March 2018‚ because the department and Sassa had failed to find alternative grant payment partners‚ even though they had been ordered by the court to do so.

The court directed Sassa to provide regular updates on its plan to replace the invalid CPS contract.

On Tuesday‚ Dlamini told parliament that the South African Post Office (Sapo)‚ which Sassa had made an offer to‚ to provide the service‚ is not in a position to carry out the job as it only fulfils one of the agency’s requirements.

Sapo’s Mark Barnes‚ however‚ insisted that the organisation was “more than ready” to take over the payment of social grants in April.

Scopa chairman Themba Godi said the government could not continue “engaging in meaningless talk” until the last minute with a potential crisis on its hands.

 

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