President Jacob Zuma’s announcement at the weekend that he will lead an interministerial committee (IMC) on social security has reportedly raised fears among officials at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) that finding a long-term solution to the payment of social grants to some 11 million citizens next year may be jeopardised.
Business Day reports that staff at the grants agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Zuma’s presence would likely reinforce Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s strategy, which is apparently at odds with that of Sassa officials following the Constitutional Court’s ruling on Friday that extended Cash Paymaster Service’s (CPS) contract to pay grants for another year after Sassa failed to insource the services.
The IMC consists of Dlamini, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters and Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi.
Zuma included Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba to the committee.
Sassa staff told the Business Day Dlamini’s strategy, which comprises a team of advisers who work in parallel with Sassa employees, were appointed irregularly by the minister in 2013.
The advisers are said to be led by attorney Tim Sukazi, former home affairs chief director Patrick Monyeki and Tankiso Parkies.
The advisers’ proposal for the payment of grants from April next year reportedly has the same core problems as the CPS contract. And efforts to develop a government-friendly system involving the Post Office may be hindered.
“We would be forced to continue relying on an independent operator who would control the data being used and charge a hefty fee.
“The court set out detailed report-back obligation, which were very encouraging. But by appointing himself to led the committee, Zuma is sending a message to the court about who is in control,” said a Sassa employee who spoke to the paper.