Trade union federation Cosatu affiliate, the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), has asked for the resignation of Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
The union, which organises workers in the information and communications technology and media sectors, urged President Jacob Zuma to relieve Dlamini of her responsibilities as political head of that department for the manner in which she handled the ongoing social grants crisis.
“Our call is informed by the fact that Minister Dlamini has lost political authority and moral high-ground to lead this strategic portfolio,” CWU general-secretary, Aubrey Tshabalala said on Monday.
Tshabalala’s comment followed Dlamini’s Sunday morning media briefing, at which the minister and her spokesperson, Lumka Oliphant, ducked questions regarding the social grants debacle.
Tshabalala said the minister’s response to the media showed she was not fit and capable to lead the portfolio.
“Already, there is a huge sense of panic and uncertainty on whether Sassa [South African Social Security Agency] will be in a position to dispense social grants to the 17 million beneficiaries, mainly from the working class and poor households, come April 1,” Tshabalala said.
He tore into Dlamini for opting to muzzle the media on key questions surrounding Sassa and its service provider, Cash Paymaster Service (CPS).
“This was a huge setback and embarrassing. We say no to Trumpification of dissent; journalists have a right to ask hard questions,” Tshabalala said.
The union suggested that social services such as grants, school textbooks, healthcare and home affairs services be handled by the South African Post Office, which it said had the capacity to do the job.
Tshabalala said the minister’s intention to extend the CPS contract, despite it being declared unconstitutional and invalid by the Constitutional Court, had made Sassa unable to find another service provider. He said the CWU was in support of the federation’s call for Dlamini to go.
“We are baffled and distressed by the ANC Women’s League’s response to Cosatu, which we find to be unfortunate. It is shocking that an organ of our revolutionary movement could reduce this matter to a mere factional political squabble,” Tshabalala said.