After arriving late and then giving her feedback report to parliament’s watchdog committee (Scopa) on the plan to pay SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) payments in April, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini then declared that she had another engagement and would be leaving.
She spoke about how she has a “five-year plan” to revolutionise Sassa, and then said that Cabinet had started meeting at 9.30am and she also needed to submit a report to them in person and asked to be excused.
“I have given a report here and I would like to be excused.”
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi immediately objected at not being allowed to ask questions and hold Dlamini to account. “Chairperson, this is wrong. This minister undermines parliament. She must be told to her face. No, it’s wrong!”
Ndlozi was accused by the ANC of shouting, to which he responded: “I’m not shouting. Minister Dlamini must be told. She can’t … she’s packing and leaving.”
While the opposition continued to protest, Ndlozi said: “This is not a church. You don’t preach and then go. You must sit there … and account.”
Dlamini said: “I don’t want to be insulted.”
Ndlozi: “A church is hardly an insult. You are insulting us.”
Dlamini then asked committee chair Themba Godi for “protection”.
“I don’t want to be pushed to where I’m being pushed.”
She ultimately did stay for questions, though Scopa did chastise Ndlozi for allegedly disrespecting the Scopa gathering.
The most critical answer she has given so far was that the increase on the more than R16 currently being paid to CPS per beneficiary has not yet been agreed.
When given a chance to pose his questions, Ndlozi asked the minister to explain her own incompetence in not being able to stick to any deadlines and why government was empowering a white-owned company, CPS, which had misrepresented its BEE.
“The minister implies,” he said, “that we speak of the 1st of April as if it’s a fact that it won’t happen. Is it not true that since the Constitutional Court ruling [of 2014] up to this point, the minister has had an avalanche of failures to stick to the deadlines, appoint and conclude contracts, and thus, isn’t it true that we couldn’t possible have confidence that she’d be ready by the 1st of April?”
Her response was that she could not stop people from “making those insinuations and wanting people to move quicker”. Dlamini moaned about people who keep wanting to “talk about the past”.
Ndlozi had also asked: “The question of radical economic transformation as professed by President Jacob Zuma is a contradiction. Why are you in negotiations with them if you see they are not BEE compliant?”
Ndlozi also asked her what she had in mind when she went to the Constitutional Court and to parliament to declare that “you were ready to take over”, only for it to emerge that they were completely behind schedule.
He said: “Please tell us what is this thing you had in mind when you spoke of a contingency plan that you could not divulge in October when you were here … that so we don’t accuse you of lying.
“What did you have in mind, now that you have failed and we are back to square one?”
Dlamini said that she had not looked into the “economic transformation issues” … “because of pressure”. She said they were still negotiating with others for terms that “are going to favour us”.
She later said that she was “taken aback” by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan having concerns about CPS.
Watch the moment the briefing got heated below: