‘Dodging’ Dlamini is politically accountable for grants payment crisis

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes the judgement in the Constitutional Court ordered Inquiry on whether Former Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, should be personally liable for the social grants crisis.

While the court has ruled that Dlamini is not personally liable, the fact remains that she presided over and was ultimately politically accountable for manufacturing a crisis that put the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans at risk.

The DA strongly believes that Dodging Dlamini purposefully created the crisis so she could benefit. It seemed that she was determined to deliberately derail the entire process of SASSA procuring an alternative service provider, all in a bid to ensure that the illegal CPS contract could be extended over and over again.

Minister Dlamini has time and again proven that she is incapable of governing a department and continuously failed in delivering on her mandate of protecting the most vulnerable in our society. She should never have been appointed Minister of Women in the Presidency.

In a scathing report by Judge Ngoepe in May this year, Dlamini was described as an evasive and inconsistent witness. This is proof of her disdain for accountability and that she has no place as a member of Cabinet.

The DA does welcome that former SASSA Acting CEO, Pearl Bhengu, has been ordered to pay the legal costs of the 2018 application seeking the extension of the illegal Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) contract.

Given that Bengu is now the regional head of SASSA in KwaZulu-Natal, this judgment should see her fired immediately.

For too long the failing ANC has protected and even promoted those guilty of putting their own interests above the interest of the people of South Africa. Dodging Dlamini is the perfect example of this but it does not have to continue to be the case.

The DA is the only party that’s committed to cutting corruption and to giving our people dignified access to social services and we will continue to fight for a better country for all.

DA welcomes a step closer to holding 'Dodging' Dlamini to account

Note to Editors: Please find attached Zulu and English soundbites by the DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP

The DA welcomes the appointment of Justice Bernard Ngoepe to head up the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini’s, role in causing the social grants crisis.

Some of the key matters that the inquiry will deal with are:

  • Whether the Minister sought the appointment of individuals to lead “workstreams” who would report directly to her; and
  • The reason why the Minister did not disclose to the Constitutional Court the fact that she appointed individuals to the “workstreams” and that they reported to her directly.

Dodging Dlamini has tried to shift the blame to the accounting officers, namely the former Director-General, Zane Dangor, and the former CEO, Thokozani Magwaza. However, this has failed and rightly so.

The DA have long been of the view that Dlamini manufactured the crisis, possibly for financial gain.

This is a welcome a step towards ensuring that Dlamini is held accountable and will shed light on the real reasons as to why SASSA was not able to institutionalise the grants payment system.

The DA looks forward to a date for the Inquiry being set and to ensuring that the Minister is made to face up to playing games.

Social Grants Crisis: Magwaza and Dangor affidavits strengthen calls for parliamentary inquiry

The DA will today submit the affidavits of former director-general of the Department of Social Development (DSD), Zane Dangor, and SASSA CEO Thokozani Magwaza to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Ms Rosemary Capa, to strengthen the call for a Parliamentary inquiry into the Social Grants Crisis.
The testimonies by Magwaza and Dangor, supports the DA’s long held belief that Minister Bathabile Dlamini deliberately bungled the process of procuring an alternative service provider to distribute the R10 billion in social grants payments, because she and her network of cronies could possibly benefit from the extension of the invalid CPS contract.
Yesterday, Zane Dangor filed an affidavit with the Constitutional Court in which he revealed that Dlamini “bypassed” departmental officials in order to ensure that CPS would continue to distribute social grants.
In fact, he stated that “parallel decision-making structures in the form of the work streams may have been deliberate to ensure a continued relationship with CPS under conditions favourable to CPS, through a self-created emergency”.
Dangor’s affidavit supports the affidavit filed by Thokozani Magwaza in which he suggested that Dlamini was determined to ensure that the distribution of social grants would not be institutionalised by SASSA, and “that since July 2015, the Minister had knowledge of inadequacies in SASSA to fulfil the objectives of the [Constitutional] court order”.
Dlamini has continued to dodge every effort to hold her accountable for the crisis she seemingly purposefully created and even survived Zuma’a midnight reshuffle despite her apparent failures. She has also attempted to lay the blame entirely at the feet of Magwaza and hardworking SASSA officials.
The DA believes that these affidavits strengthen the call for a full parliamentary inquiry into the debacle, which should be instituted to ensure that the Minister is held accountable for her reckless behaviour that threatened the only source of income for millions of poor South Africans.
Seeing that the President has completely failed to hold Dlamini to account, it is now up to Parliament to do so.

Social Grants Crisis: Hundreds did not receive grants today

Today, during an oversight visit to the Rabasotho Community Centre in Tembisa, Johannesburg, by myself and other DA activists, it emerged that hundreds of social grants recipients – many of them elderly – were not going to be paid today, as the pay point was closed, with not a single SASSA official in sight.
This is despite reassurances from the Department Social Development that all social grant beneficiaries who get their grants from SASSA pay points would receive their money today, April 3.
However, by 7 am, about 300 grant recipients had already arrived at the Rabasotho Community Centre, only to learn that the facility was not even open. This is completely unacceptable.
The grant recipients were distressed not to be receiving their money as expected. Some gogos went to the pay point with the minibus taxis which they paid for, and many of them did not have the money for transport to return home.
DA activists then went to the nearby SASSA office to investigate, only to be told by SASSA officials that these grant recipients were only scheduled to be paid tomorrow, Tuesday, April 4th.
All the grant recipients we spoke to, informed us that they were never told that they would not receive their grants today.
SASSA officials then set up a makeshift poster, informing grant recipients that they would be paid on the 4th.
This comes amidst a number of reports nationwide, that some grant recipients are short of R4 from their payments this month.
Minister Dlamini must urgently explain this unexpected deduction and also account for some recipients not receiving their grants today.
This is what is happening at one pay point the DA has visited, and at many other pay points grant recipients are waiting in front of closed doors.
This is yet another indication of the mess that is the Department of Social Development. Minister Bathabile Dlamini is clearly not in command of her department. The fact that Dlamini was not removed during the President’s midnight cabinet reshuffle, while other competent ministers were, is an indictment on Zuma. It shows that President does not care for the poor nor does he care about ending the scourge of corruption in South Africa.
The fact that Dlamini was not removed during the President’s midnight cabinet reshuffle, while other competent ministers were, is an indictment on Zuma. It shows that the President does not care for the poor nor does he care about ending the scourge of corruption in South Africa.

Social Grants Crisis: SAPS must investigate suspicious break-ins

The DA will today write to the Acting National Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, to request that he launches a full investigation into the break-in at the former Director General of the Department of Social Development, Zane Dangor’s home, as well as two other suspicious acts of intimidation that have occurred in recent days.
On Monday, Dangor’s home was approached by two vehicles, and the men in these vehicles broke into his home and attacked his son. However, nothing was stolen and the police have therefore claimed that they could not investigate the incident.
Reports have also stated that the home of the CEO of SASSA, Thokozani Magwaza, was targeted by the same vehicles and the men approached his wife, however, they failed to break-in.
In the same week, the Office of the Chief Justice was also broken into and the assailants fled with 15 computers containing the personal information of judges and the personnel of the Department of Justice.
These three incidents are highly irregular, the timing is equally suspicious and seems to point to an orchestrated attempt of intimidation against the actors that are involved in the SASSA debacle.
The DA has already written to the Public Protector to request an investigation into the relationship between Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, and Cash Paymaster Services, as it is our belief that Dlamini manufactured this social grants crisis, risking the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans, to ensure CPS would continue to distribute grants.
Phahlane must investigate these cases of intimidation in order to establish if there is indeed a link between them, the motivations behind them, and who is responsible.
We cannot allow for those who are responsible for these incidents to get off scot-free, especially when the safety of innocent people are threatened.

#DlaminiMustGo: DA welcomes Public Protector investigation into Dodging Dlamini and CPS

The DA welcomes that Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has decided to investigate the relationship between the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), following the DA’s request for her to probe their relationship.
The DA is of the belief that Dlamini purposefully bungled the takeover process to ensure CPS would continue to distribute social grants. It is astounding that a Minister who has put the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans at risk, possibly for her own personal gain, would be allowed to keep their job. Yet, we have come to see that President Zuma rewards failure.
The entire country, including the Constitutional Court, has seen Dlamini for what she truly is, uncaring and “incompetent”. The DA has repeatedly called for her to be fired but Zuma continues to protect her.
In fact, instead of firing her, he has opted to establish an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on social security. Like Nkandla, this committee is nothing more than an exercise in institutionalised white-washing.
Dlamini has refused to adhere to three separate legal opinions presented to her and has even disregarded the Constitutional Court. Media reports also indicate that Zuma’s special adviser, Michael Hulley, held special meetings with Dlamini and SASSA officials to ensure the extension of the illegal contract between SASSA and CPS.
Dlamini seemed desperate to ensure that CPS continues to pay out social grants to the 17 million poor and vulnerable beneficiaries and the reasons for this must be fully investigated.
Even when CPS was exposed for illegally deducting money from the social grants of the most vulnerable in our society, she did not care.
The DA therefore hopes that the Public Protectors’ investigation will shed some light on how this crisis came about and that those who are responsible, particularly Dlamini, are brought to account, as it is becoming clear that the president will continue to aid Dlamini in dodging accountability.

Social Grants Crisis: DA welcomes victory for grant recipients in spite of Dlamini

The DA welcomes the fact that the 17 million social grants will be paid after 31 March 2017, in spite of the astounding “incompetence” displayed by Social Development Minster, Bathabile Dlamini.
What is clear is that the Minister has been directly responsible for this crisis.
The Constitutional Court has given Dodging Dlamini until 31 March to submit her argument as to why she should not personally pay the legal costs for this process, which is a damning indictment on her.
Dlamini has failed spectacularly and has been directly responsible for this crisis, which the DA believes she purposefully manufactured to ensure CPS would continue to distribute grants, no doubt for her own personal gain.
It is now time that President Jacob Zuma immediately fire Dlamini to ensure that she will no longer be able to exert her toxic influence, interfere or block alternative payments methods for the distribution of social grants.

Social Grants Crisis: DA calls for Ad Hoc committee

Today we are faced with a crisis, manufactured by the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, which has put the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans at risk.
We know that in 2012, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) won the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) tender to distribute social grant payments. In April 2014, the Constitutional Court declared the contract invalid based on two grounds:

  • First, was that SASSA failed to ensure that the BEE credentials claimed by CPS were objectively confirmed; and
  • Second, was that the second bidder’s notice did not specify with sufficient clarity what was required of bidders regarding biometric verification, which resulted in only one bidder, CPS, being considered in the second stage of the bidding process, which rendered the process uncompetitive and made any comparative consideration of cost effectiveness impossible.

In November 2015, SASSA reported to the Constitutional Court that it would be ready to take over the distribution of social grants from 1 April 2017.
Indeed, in her budget vote speech on 5 May 2016, Dlamini reaffirmed that SASSA would take over the payment process of social grants.
The DA has written to the Public Protector asking her to conduct an urgent inquiry into an alleged breach of the Executive Ethics code for wilfully misleading parliament.
It has become clear that the Minister has done everything in her power to ensure that CPS would continue to distribute social grants and we must get to the bottom of who will benefit from this.
That is why we have also requested that the Public Protector launch an investigation into the relationship between Dlamini and CPS, as there must be a reason why Dlamini has been so hell-bent on ensuring that CPS would continue to distribute grants.
On 12 March, SASSA CEO, Thokozani Magwaza, claimed that Minister Dlamini blocked all his efforts to report back to the Constitutional Court about the payment of social grants and that she personally interfered when he tried to find a solution to the crisis.
Dlamini also wilfully ignored three separate legal opinions which all recommended that SASSA proactively approaches the Constitutional court, as it was clear, a full year ago in April 2016, that they would not be ready to take over the distribution.
The DA can today reveal all three legal opinions, the golden thread running through each is that SASSA should proactively approach the Constitutional Court to seek directions on how to proceed as it is clear that they would not be ready to take over, despite the Ministers assurances.
In May 2016, SASSA was advised by Advocates Nazeer Cassim and Mias Mostert to approach the Constitutional Court to proactively to seek guidance as to whether the Court wished to resume its supervisory jurisdiction and to inform the Court regarding the delays in the institutionalisation of grant payments and inform them of the new time frames. Tellingly, this opinion stated that “our concern is that the impression may be created that SASSA has, all along, been pulling the wool over the Court’s eyes.”
In October 2016, Adv. Trengrove found that “The Constitutional Court has already held that the original procurement was unlawful and invalid…[and] We conclude that SASSA’s proposed interim agreement with CPS will not be lawful.”
Adv Trengrove essentially stated that SASSA should contract with CPS only for the bare minimum time to allow them to enter into a lawful contract following a tender process. Further, the interim contract with CPS must be on “the same or similar” terms. It cannot be more preferential than the original, unlawful conduct or they would fly in the face of their financial obligations. Adv Trengrove also stated that the failure to enter a legal contract “is due instead to SASSA’s own failure to get its ducks in a row in time” Finally, SASSA were once again advised to proactively approach the court with this information, which they did not do.
In November 2016, SASSA and the Minister received counsel from Adv Sikhakhane. He advised that SASSA reports to the Constitutional Court on its chosen option or solution for the payment of social grants and that SASSA should make every possible attempt to be in a position to perform the services itself.
Advocate Sikhakhane stated that “Any attempt to extend the contract with CPS without leave of the Court, may be viewed as perpetuating an illegality”.
“SASSA may approach the Constitutional Court to seek to extend the suspension of the declaration of invalidity in order to allow SASSA more time to procure the ancillary services from a service provider”.
According to Sikhakhane’s advice, SASSA had enough time to find an adequate alternative service provider. Thus, based on this counsel, it can be deduced that SASSA sought to change the circumstances by doing absolutely nothing, hoping that the court would be misled. This crisis is indeed self-made.
Dlamini, refused, with typical ANC arrogance, all of the advice presented to her. The DA will send all three legal opinions to the Public Protector to supplement investigation into whether the Minister wilfully mislead parliament.
Not only did the Minister manufacture this crisis, she also avoided every opportunity at accountability.
With only two weeks to go until the contract expires – and no alternate plan to ensure grants will be paid, this is an unbelievable example of recklessness and Dlamini’s inability to prioritise the livelihoods of millions of South Africans above her own Interests.
The DA has therefore submitted a draft resolution to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to request that Parliament establishes an Ad Hoc Committee to launch a full parliamentary inquiry into the social grants crisis.
An ad hoc committee into this crisis will play an important role in ensuring that all the guilty parties are held to account.
This ad hoc committee must investigate:

  • the circumstances surrounding the crisis, including the role of the Minister
  • the nature of the relationship between CPS, the current and former ministers of Social Development and the current and former Chief Executive Officers of SASSA;
  • Serge Belamant’s role in this crisis; and
  • the various legal opinions which were sought regarding the issue over time, including that of the Special Advisor to the President, Michael Hulley.

17 million South Africans receive social grants every month. These grants barely cover the cost of the bare essentials and now these grants, which in some cases are the only source of survival for the poor, is in danger because Dlamini saw it fit to play political games, most likely as she will benefit in some way or another.
It is now blatantly clear that Dlamini has done all in her power to avoid having to produce any contract for the Constitutional Court’s scrutiny and that the minister is desperate to ensure that CPS keeps this lucrative contract at all costs.

Dodging Dlamini’s reign of impunity

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Social Development, Lindy Wilson MP, during the debate on the SASSA crisis.
From very large nyana skeletons to the artful dodger. Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, has become a master of dodging accountability.
Her absolute disdain and disregard for 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans, the Constitutional Court, Parliamentary procedures and regulations, and the PFMA, beggar belief. The lengths she has gone to, to ensure that CPS gets a new contract to issue grants again, cannot be made up.
In July 2016, when it was fast becoming apparent that SASSA were facing challenges with regards to the take-over of grants in April 2017, the DA began submitting written questions to the Minister. 15 in total. The Minister responded to two. This year we submitted 13 questions and not one of them has been answered.

  • The DA asked the Minister whether she submitted the proposed payment model for the takeover of the payments of grants by SASSA to the National Treasury for analysis and evaluation – NO REPLY.
  • In July 2016 and again in January 2017 the DA asked the Minister whether SASSA intends to extend its contract for the distribution of grants with Net1/CPS before the specified contract concludes on 31 March 2017 – NO REPLY.
  • The DA asked the Minister for the details of the various work stream categories set up by her department to action the transition of the distribution of social grants from Net1/CPS to SASSA – NO REPLY.
  • The DA questioned the tender processes used for the contracts for the leaders and work streams – NO REPLY.

This a clear indication of the Minister’s reign of impunity and her continual dodging of any opportunity to account for her department’s failure to ensure that 17 million South Africans receive their grants when the current invalid CPS contract ends on 31 March 2017.
Parliamentary questions are a vital component of accountability in Parliament and provide an opportunity to ensure that the Executive conduct themselves in a transparent manner.
When the DA requested the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee to please summons the Minister to give account to the Portfolio, we were advised that the Chair may not summons the Minister, she gets invited. If she decides to come, it is up to her.
When the Minister did grace the Portfolio with her presence, it was to continue her lack of transparency. She was deliberately vague in her responses, and, when the DA pushed for concrete answers, they were shut down by the Chair of the Committee.
So the DA requested SCOPA to ask the Minister to appear. Only then did her skeletons start to fall out of the closet… and it became apparent that her manipulation of this emergency situation in favour of CPS and the lack of any contracts with them had put the lives of 17 million South Africans at risk.
The DA is of the belief that Ms Dlamini is no longer fit to hold office and have called for President Zuma to fire her. His silence on this matter is deafening and serves to confirm that the ANC rewards failure.
We will continue to pursue all avenues to make sure the Minister will not be allowed to dodge accountability any longer.

Social Grants Crisis: 28 days and counting since DA called for dodging Dlamini to be fired

It has been 28 days since the DA called on President Zuma to fire the Social Development Minister over her inexcusable mismanagement of the social grants crisis and still no action has been taken to hold her accountable for putting the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans at risk.
Since then it has emerged that:
• SASSA has failed to answer questions put to them by the Constitutional Court regarding social grants and the CPS contract;
• SASSA knew they would not be ready to take over the distribution of social grants as far back as April 2016, a full year ago;
• Dlamini has taken every opportunity to block any alternative options that do not involve CPS;
• Three different legal opinions, which stated that SASSA should approach the Constitutional court, were ignored by Dlamini;
• The President’s special advisor, Michael Hulley, has been involved in ensuring CPS would continue to distribute social grants; and
• Dlamini has failed to answer 93% of parliamentary questions regarding the social grants crisis.
The DA have already written to the Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to request two investigations, one into the relationship between the Minister and CPS as there seems to be a possibility that Dlamini will, in some way, benefit from the CPS contract, and the second to investigate whether Dlamini wilfully mislead Parliament.
It is blatantly obvious that Dlamini is not fit for office and her contempt for the highest court in our country is matched only by her contempt for the most vulnerable people in our country.
The laundry list of failures by Dlamini is vast and it is high time the President puts the interests of the people and their wellbeing first.