Former Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza Picture: Getrude Makhafola/ANA

Johannesburg - A visibly angry Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini on Tuesday accused former South African Social Security (Sassa) CEO Thokozani Magwaza of “causing problems” regarding the work of advisory groups called workstreams.

“Fighting over job of the workstreams started when Magwaza arrived [after appointment as CEO]. I was surprised [at Magwaza] because he had agreed to the workstreams,” Dlamini said when she testified at the commission of inquiry into her role in the social grants debacle.

She said Magwaza, who was acting director-general of the department before he was appointed CEO, found the workstreams already appointed and continued with their work at Sassa.

The two had been at loggerheads over the work done by the workstreams as the social grants crisis became imminent. Magwaza then filed an affidavit in the Constitutional Court disputing Dlamini’s claims in court that sought to lay blame on Sassa executives. The former CEO said the affidavit was his personal account to “set the record straight” that Dlamini knew as far back as July 2015 that Sassa would not able to take over the grant payments. He accused Dlamini of interfering in Sassa plans to take over from Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).

The contentious workstreams, appointed in 2015 to help Sassa transition to taking over grant payments, cost the taxpayer more than R40 million. The advisory groups reported to Dlamini directly, and were seen as an unnecessary parallel structure at Sassa.

Geoff Budlender, acting for the Black Sash, earlier accused Dlamini of dodging his questions, and being “evasive and unresponsive".

Commission chairman, retired judge Bernard Ngoepe asked Dlamini to respond appropriately.

“Why does Mr Budlender have to ask one question three times? I assume there is a simple answer to this question.”

The inquiry into Dlamini’s role in the social grants debacle commenced on Monday in Johannesburg.

The grants crisis saw rights group Black Sash taking the department to the Constitutional Court to ensure that over 17 million beneficiaries continued to receive grants, after the court ruled in 2014 that the CPS contract to dispense grants was invalid.

In March 2017, the Constitutional Court ordered that CPS continue to pay grants for a further twelve months, after it was found that Sassa was unable to meet the deadline and take over grant payments.

African News Agency/ANA