Johannesburg - Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane has described Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini as “totally inept” and called for her to resign or for President Jacob Zuma to fire her.
Ndungane was reacting to the continuing social grant debacle, which has left many wondering whether the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will be able to pay social grants to 17 million beneficiaries on April 1.
Sassa falls under Dlamini’s ministry.
The Department of Social Development has entered into negotiations with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to extend the pension grant contract for 12 months.
Although promising to seek permission from the Constitutional Court, which ruled that the contract with CPS (Cash Paymaster Services) is invalid and that the department should take over the grant distribution in April, it has not yet done so.
On Thursday, calls were made for heads to roll and Zuma was urged to intervene.
Ndungane said the fact that the contract problems had not yet been sorted out at the proverbial 11th hour was a damning indictment on the leadership of Zuma and Dlamini.
“Minister Dlamini has shown herself to be totally inept and should resign immediately, failing which the president should fire her.
“The president himself should also take responsibility for not managing this situation properly and allowing this fiasco to happen under his watch,” Ndungane said.
The cabinet has also come under criticism for not taking a firm position on the looming pension grant crisis, while there is still uncertainty whether beneficiaries will receive their grants next month.
Even the ANC’s tripartite alliance partner, Cosatu, demanded that Dlamini and her team take responsibility by resigning.
“They have failed to deal decisively with the irregular expenditure and irregular tender procedures that have resulted in the threat to the livelihoods of
17 million grant beneficiaries, the labour federation said.
“This is not just an administrative bungling, but it is a political own goal that smells of corruption,” Cosatu added.
Political parties and interest groups said the government was showing lack of interest in the distribution of grants by Sassa at a critical time
This unfolded after Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe told a post-cabinet briefing in Parliament that the social grants issue was raised at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, but it was decided to allocate special time next week to discuss it with all its complexities.
“All of us are as concerned as everybody else. As the deputy president (Cyril Ramaphosa) highlighted when answering questions in Parliament, as the government we are deeply and totally committed to ensuring that come April 1, the 17 million beneficiaries must be given their social grants,” Radebe said.
“That is why the cabinet has decided we need a comprehensive report from all the teams next week, not only the Social Development Department, but the National Treasury and all the affected parties in this matter will give a report,” Radebe said.
“It will be after that meeting that we will be able to indicate what the position of the government is,” he added.