Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan has criticised Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini over her handling of the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants saga, saying she lacked humility to take responsibility for her wrongs.
“One must have the humility, the courage and the sensibility to say, ‘honestly, I didn’t keep an eye on this ball, there’s a mistake that was made,’” Gordhan said.
He was speaking at a memorial service in Pretoria on Wednesday evening in honour of ANC struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada, where he said Dlamini couldn’t put the blame for the Sassa payment debacle on the agency’s CEO Thokozani Magwaza and National Treasury.
“Don’t blame the CEO of Sassa, the poor chap, or blame the Treasury … leaving 17 million people in anxiety,” he said.
Last month, the Constitutional Court intervened in the crisis – which put the welfare of about 11 million social grants beneficiaries in jeopardy – and extended Sassa’s contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for another 12 months after the grants agency, and the social development department failed to come up with an in-house payment system to disburse 17 million social assistance grants to recipients.
This was despite the court declaring in 2014 that the contract between Sassa and CPS was illegal.
The ConCourt also ordered Dlamini to file her response on March 31 explaining why she should not personally pay her own legal costs from her own pocket over the scandal, but she lay the blame squarely at Magwaza’s door.
On Wednesda,y Magwaza wrote to the ConCourt asking for permission to state his side of the story. In his court papers, he said Dlamini’s version of events was inaccurate.
Gordhan was fired last week Thursday in a sweeping Cabinet reshuffle by President Jacob Zuma along with five other ministers, to much public outcry and calls for the president to be removed from power. He is expected to speak at several memorial services for the late Rivonia trialist.