It is frightening to realise that far from placating the fears of needy South Africans who rely on social grants to survive, a media conference called by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini in Tshwane over the weekend has generated more confusion than confidence that payouts will be made come April 1.
But there has been a remarkable lack of a definitive plan by the minister on exactly how this is to be achieved other than a suitably vague reference to post offices being drafted in as payout points.
To add to the already chaotic state of affairs, the minister refused to respond to questions about the resignation of her department’s director-general Zane Dangor.
Dlamini also ducked answers on the legality of current service provider Cash Paymaster Services’s (CPS) contract after March 31; the cost involved in a revised contract after negotiation with CPS; why the Constitutional Court instruction in 2014 that Sassa’s contract with CPS was invalid because the tender process was flawed, was ignored and the process manipulated to create the current crisis; and what the handover period would be to the new service providers.
Asked whether she would be going back to the Constitutional Court to present their plans in the wake of the CPS tender having been declared unconstitutional, Dlamini said: “It’s our responsibility to recommend for the deviation, and it remains our responsibility, through the CEO, to sign off on that deviation.”
We would argue that this falls a long way short of a direct answer and is compounded by reports that CEO Thokozani Magwaza took sick leave last week.
If the department has proved to be unable to solve the impasse in over two years, and ignored our highest court in the process, what chance before the end of the month?