Newly-appointed acting Sassa CEO Pearl Bhengu and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: @OfficialSASSA/Twitter

Cape Town - Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) wants Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to come clean on the alleged business ties between newly appointed acting SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) chief executive Pearl Bhengu and the minister’s daughter, Skhumbuzo Mazibuko.

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi raised concerns over news reports on Bhengu being linked to Dlamini’s daughter Mazibuko, saying they want the minister to set the record straight when Scopa meets with Sassa next month.

Godi pointed out that they would not want a minister to be entangled in business deals with top officials. But the Department of Social Development has said the alleged business partnership between Bhengu and Dlamini’s daughter never got off the ground.

Godi has insisted they still wanted answers from the minister. “I may not be certain which regulations are being violated. It does raise ethical questions and cannot be justified,” he said.

“There is no way anybody can justify that It is something to be avoided if you want to do the right thing. It should be obvious to anybody that it is wrong,” he said.

Godi added that people had to have a level of conscience in leadership positions.

Bhengu was appointed last week, taking over from former Sassa chief executive Thokozani Magwaza, who revealed that his family had been facing death threats.

When news that he was being replaced emerged, Magwaza pointed out that he had not resigned from the agency but that his contract had in fact been terminated.

This was despite the Social Development Department saying it had reached a mutual agreement with Magwaza to terminate his contract.

Bhengu was merely a senior manager in KwaZulu-Natal before she was sent to head the agency at national level.

Godi said now that the matter was in the public domain, it required the intervention of Parliament.

Sassa has been in the public eye after the Cash Paymaster Systems contract came to an end with no alternative plan in place, threatening the social grants of millions of beneficiaries.

Black Sash took Dlamini to the Constitutional Court over the crisis. Other organisations also joined the application and the court extended the CPS contract for a year until a new company is found to distribute social grants.

Magwaza had filed his own application in the Constitutional Court in which he disputed the version of Dlamini on the social grants crisis. He was also due to deal with another matter in court on why Dlamini should pay costs from her own pocket.

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