Picture: David Ritchie
Cape Town – The Democratic Alliance will continue with its application in the Constitutional Court seeking accountability for those who failed to ensure the South African Social Security Agency's (Sassa) readiness 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, the party said on Sunday. 

This despite Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini telling journalists in Pretoria on Sunday morning that mechanisms were in place to ensure that all social grant beneficiaries were paid on time after the CPS contract ended. 

The "disgraceful contempt" shown by Dlamini towards 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans at the media conference on Sunday morning deserved condemnation in the strongest terms possible, DA spokeswoman Bridget Masango said. 

The DA was both shocked and angered by Dlamini's failure to table a clear plan to resolve the crisis. If anything, her "unwillingness to provide clear answers, determination to blame the media, and refusal to explain" the resignation on Friday of her director general Zane Dangor provided the clearest indication yet as to why "we are in this mess today", Masango said. 

"Indeed, Dlamini doesn’t care about the poor or all those South Africans, young and old, who rely on a social grant to survive. She is in this job just to feed at the trough – not to make a difference." President Jacob Zuma should also be held accountable for the growing crisis. He had remained silent until the last possible minute and failed to fire Dlamini – the bare minimum he could do – to show that he was equally concerned about grant recipients. 

"Jacob Zuma rewards failure so long as it means he remains in power. The DA will not let the ANC get away with taking grants away from our poor and vulnerable. We are ready to do whatever we can to ensure that every person who needs a grant gets a grant come 1st April 2017. 

"We will therefore continue with our application in the Constitutional Court seeking accountability for those who have failed to ensure Sassa’s readiness to take over the distribution of grants and who have put the livelihoods of 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans at risk. 

"As a part of our application we have sought a declaratory order from the court confirming that the minister of social development, the CEO of the Sassa, and the Sassa violated their duties in terms of sections 165(4) and (5) and section 195 of the Constitution," Masango said. 

The DA was further seeking a declaration that Dlamini had violated her oath of office in failing to perform the functions of her office with honour, dignity, and to the best of her ability. 

"Our preparations for our mass march this week Friday, 10 March 2017, are also continuing. We are ready to send a clear message to minister Dlamini that her disdain for the poor will not be left unanswered. Dlamini must go and go now. We will make this clear on Friday," Masango said. 

At the media conference earlier, Dlamini said CPS would continue to pay out social grants even after its contract expired at the end of the month. But the social development department was quick to say “no deal” had yet been signed with CPS. Discussions with the service provider were ongoing. Dlamini said the plan was to have a transition period at the end of which Sassa would take over the responsibility of paying out social grants. 

She said the South African Post Office would also be involved. In 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled that Sassa’s contract with CPS was invalid because the tender process was flawed.