Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini Photo: Independent Media
Cape Town – Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has failed to ensure that the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) is ready to take over the distribution of grants at the end of this month when the current invalid Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) contract comes to an end and has allowed the situation to reach crisis point, the Democratic Alliance said on Saturday.

Social development director general Zane Dangor's resignation on Friday was yet another sign of Dlamini's "destructive and toxic influence and should see her removed immediately", DA spokeswoman Bridget Masango said.

"The DA will write to the chairperson of the portfolio committee on social development Rosemary Capa to request that she invite Mr Dangor to come before the committee to detail what has been taking place.

"Dlamini has utterly failed to ensure that Sassa was ready to take over the distribution of grants at the end of this month when the current invalid CPS contract comes to an end and has allowed the situation to reach crisis point.

"In fact, she has manufactured this crisis and even misled the Constitutional Court in October last year when she stated that Sassa would be ready to take over the distribution.

"Dlamini cannot be trusted with the livelihoods of 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans. The president has more than enough cause to remove her and for the sake of millions of South Africans, the DA calls on him to do so immediately," Masango said.

Earlier on Saturday Parliament’s public accounts standing committee (Scopa) said the department was "clearly falling apart". Scopa had noted with anger the resignation of recently appointed Dangor over the Sassa debacle, Scopa chairman Themba Godi said.

“In our brief interactions with Mr Dangor he had proven himself to be an honest and hardworking civil servant. He was one of the many officials in the department and in Sassa who have been frustrated by minister Bathabile Dlamini’s heavy handed interference in Sassa’s administrative matters,” he said.

Godi said the CPS contract negotiations had been handled to the disadvantage of the state and grant recipients, especially around the issue of deductions which had been a major thorn for recipients.

Dlamini now had to take full responsibility for this.

“The department is clearly falling apart,” Godi said.

“As Scopa we are looking forward to meeting with the minister on Tuesday so that all these matters can be fully ventilated. It is now becoming very difficult to explain the capability of the minister to effectively run the department and discharge of her responsibilities. Scopa cannot be quiet or indifferent to these levels of mismanagement which create unease and anxiety in the nation, and comes at a huge financial cost to the state,” Godi said.

The Daily Maverick report on Saturday: “It had become increasingly clear at presentations to Parliament’s portfolio committees on social development and public accounts that Dangor and Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza have been sidelined and kept out of what appears to be a closed loop with regard to the agency’s readiness to act as paymaster for social grants as well as backroom negotiations that have been taking place with CPS.”

In 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled that Sassa’s contract with CPS was invalid because the tender process was flawed.

eNCA reported that Dangor said he had resigned because of a “complete breakdown in [the] relationship between him and the minister over the payment of social grants and the legal requirements obliged by Sassa”.

In a terse statement late on Friday night, the social development department said Sassa and CPS had “reached an agreement after they were locked up in intense negotiations for three days”.

Dlamini would announce the “nature of this agreement soon. Details of the announcement will be communicated in due course”, the brief statement said.