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MPs call on Zuma to step in to social grants fray

President Jacob Zuma has been asked to step in to help resolve social grants debacle.
President Jacob Zuma has been asked to step in to help resolve social grants debacle.
Image: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Frustrated ANC MPs have declared that President Jacob Zuma should step in to resolve the impasse between the Post Office and SASSA over the payment of social grants.

The MPs called on Zuma to intervene in the battle between the Post Office‚ SASSA and social development minister Bathabile Dlamini‚ as the three entities squabbled before a joint meeting of the social development committee on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) over the post office's capability to pay the grants.

Zuma is the chairman of an inter-ministerial committee that he set up following the Constitutional Court judgment that nullified SASSA's contract with Cash Paymaster Service.

Post Office CEO Mark Barnes on Tuesday insisted that they were more than ready to take over the payment of social grants from CPS in April next year‚ while Dlamini argued the contrary.

Barnes was backed by telecommunications and postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele‚ while Dlamini repeatedly shook her head in disagreement during the meeting.

ANC MP Nyami Booi was the first to invoke Zuma's name in helping find a solution to the deadlock.

"We are not interested in CPS and we are not going to dance to tune of CPS. That's why we are saying let's take a step up‚ let's re-engage the IMC (task team) about this particular report‚" said Booi.

There are increasing fears that millions of poor children and old-age pensioners may not receive their social grants in April next year‚ if a solution to the crisis is not found soon.

Themba Godi‚ the chairman of SCOPA‚ said: "We can't keep kicking the can down the road until March next year. We must comply with the directives of the Constitutional Court [to resolve the matter by April 2018]. We can't encourage sitting here and talking‚ engaging in meaningless talk."

ANC MP Nthabiseng Khunou‚ who is also a preacher‚ said: "We do not want God to judge this government because of the mistakes that we are making."

Booi and Khunou were supported by another senior ANC MP‚ Vincent Smith: "I really think the IMC must sit and take a decision‚ because there's no way South Africans can't get their money on April 1. It's the politics of it. If there's a deadlock‚ what is the deadlock-breaking mechanism?” However‚ Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Primrose Sonti was sceptical that Zuma could provide a solution to the crisis. "There is no hope when you talk about the president‚" she said.

Another EFF MP‚ Ntombovuyo Mene‚ said the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations [the Hawks] should probe several officials from the department of social development and SASSA‚ for allegedly lying to parliament about this matter.

"Where is [Hawks head] Matakata?” she asked. “Why are the Hawks not here? There has been perjury in meetings since last week. They must lay criminal charges against officials who come here and lie."

The committee sent the Post Office and SASSA back to the meeting room to hash out their differences and report back by Wednesday.


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