The African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) on Friday welcomed the Constitutional Court ruling on its president and former social development minister, Bathabile Dlamini.
The ConCourt on Thursday ruled that Dlamini should not be held personally liable to pay costs for an application to extend the cash grant payments contract – instead, the court ordered that South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) and its then-acting CEO‚ Pearl Bhengu‚ foot the bill.
Commenting on the ruling in a statement, Meokgo Matuba the ANCWL secretary-general said: “The ruling has silenced many detractors and hellbent haters of comrade Bathabile who was found guilty through the court of public opinions, despite the fact that during her tenure at social development, beneficiaries received their grants on time.
“The ANCWL firmly believes that all the attacks against comrade Bathabile during her tenure at social development were engineered by the monopolies in the financial sector and their stooges.
“It is not surprising that the Managing Director of Banking Association of South Africa Cas Coovadia reportedly said, with comrade Bathabile now shifted to another ministry the commercial banks are now able to revive talks with Sassa about their role in paying social grants.”
The statement went on to accuse “some of these commercial banks” that want to take over payments of social grants of being “habitual criminals” and suggested they were fingered in “the grand corruption of manipulation of the rand”.
The women’s league warned the ANC-led government to “guard against the habitual criminals masquerading as credible financial institutions taking over payments of social grants”.
The statement ended off saying: “The matter is now closed. We encourage comrade Bathabile Dlamini to continue with her sterling job of championing the socio-economic development of women in the country. The ANCWL will always be united and provide her with unreserved support”.
The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) and rights group Black Sash Trust also welcomed a Constitutional Court’s judgment.
“CALS and the Black Sash Trust welcome the judgment, which explains that the extension was granted in order to ensure beneficiaries would not face harm and would continue to receive their grants,” the organisations said in a statement.
“The Court makes clear that the urgency of the application was ‘self-created’ and due to a ‘lack of diligence on the part of Sassa in relation to its preparation for the transition on payment of social grants’.”
The court said approximately 2.8 million recipients could have been affected if the suspension of the invalidity of the contract was not granted.
Dlamini, however, escaped liability for the legal costs, which included fees of two lawyers, despite the court saying she should be held accountable for the crisis at Sassa.
Wandisa Phama, an attorney at CALS, said the Constitutional Court had played an essential role in the oversight of Sassa along with the panel of experts led by the Auditor General.
“This is part of ongoing litigation we have instituted in an effort to protect social grants and ensure beneficiaries receive their payments in full and on time,” Phama said.