Former adviser to Social Development Minister Zane Dangor gives evidence at the SASSA inquiry. Picture: Getrude Makhafola/ANA

Johannesburg - Zane Dangor, a former special adviser to South African Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini on Friday said the minister never consulted him on the job of the work streams that were tasked with helping the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) to take over grants payment.

"On the work streams, I was entirely left out of the loop deliberately... because if I had intervened, I would have put forward views that were contrary to what the minister wanted at the time," Dangor told the inquiry into the social grants debacle held in Midrand.

Dangor was giving his evidence led by his advocate Nicole Mayet-Beaukes. Former Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza was cross-examined earlier by Ishmael Semenya, for Dlamini.

Dangor rubbished Dlamini's statement that he failed in his duty as her adviser. He said he was never scared of challenging Dlamini when he felt she was wrong on the work of the department and Sassa.

"The minister can herself agree that my duties have been ones that she appreciated, she has stated that publicly in a number of instances," he said.

Mayet-Beaukes asked: "You heard the minister in her testimony, she said you had the responsibility to raise issues with her, specifically relating to the works stream...what is your response to that?"

Dangor said his role involved holding both formal and informal meetings with Dlamini on matters that arose and give advice on how tackle issues.

"My experience was that when it came to the work streams, the minister never sought my advice because he was getting it from outside...including one of the leaders of the work streams."

Dangor resigned as social development department’s director general and Dlamini's adviser in March 2017, just four months following his appointment in November 2016. 

He said at the time 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".

The job of the work streams at Sassa was seen as parallel to that of its officials, pitting Magwaza and Dangor against Dlamini. The contentious work streams reported directly to Dlamini and cost taxpayers a reported R47 million, without any evidence of tangible work done.

The Constitutional Court-mandated inquiry, chaired by retired judge Barnard Ngoepe, is probing whether Dlamini should be held personally liable for legal costs incurred in the social grants debacle.

The grants crisis saw rights group Black Sash and Freedom Under Law (FUL) 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 Cash Paymaster Services (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

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