Despite the fact that Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is yet to approach the Constitutional Court, as advised by Advocate Wim Trengove in October last year, she has used the platform of appearing before parliament’s watchdog committee Scopa to say that what she “had to do was apologise” to the country’s highest legal body.
She earlier said that she and her department also owed the nation an apology even if the confusion over who would pay SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants wasn’t its fault. She again blamed the media.
She has slammed the media for creating “confusion” and “panic” around the issue of whether social grants recipients would get their Sassa payments in April.
However, very few in the media have ever reported that grants won’t be paid on 1 April. Questions have been raised about the legality of how any payments will be made after the Concourt declared a deal with Cash Paysmaster Services (CPS) illegal in 2014, but suspended that judgment to ensure grants continued to be paid and to allow the department to appoint a proper provider.
That has not happened and Dlamini admitted again on Tuesday that CPS remains the only provider able to offer a “seamless service” and that Sassa is not able to take over the payments despite talks to involve the Post Office and other entities such as Grindrod Bank.
Dlamini told Scopa: “When we sat down with our lawyers, and then when we presented to the portfolio committee, there was a suggestion that we should submit a report, or volunteer information to the Constitutional Court and that our report must be divided into two so that, firstly, the court understands what has been happening throughout, and then secondly after the negotiations. Then the first affidavit that was about to be deposited had a number of challenges, and among them was that [Cash Paymaster Services] CPS, the minister of finance and Treasury were supposed to be respondents, but we did not get a response.
“But the affidavit shows we had already decided about who should do what, but also I think this thing has been discussed a lot … people raising their feelings … but also making something that has not happened as the truth, saying that on the 1st of April we will not be able to pay grants.
“So what we thought we had to do was to apologise, firstly, to the Constitutional Court, for everything that has … the commotion … misunderstanding … and that the people are unstable because of the reports they have been getting. Never mind that we have been saying we will be paying on the 1st of April. Never mind that the technical team had sat to discuss the matter and make their recommendation.
“So … I asked that that affidavit should not be given or submitted or posted … that is what the legal people would say. And we sat down and agreed on the approach. And again an affidavit with that [indistinct] was posted, and I had never seen it. I have a right to see what is in that affidavit. So I withdrew it.”
She said she brought the legal teams together and that they have “posted” a report to the Constitutional Court.