Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini told a hearing on Tuesday that she had not known until October 2016 that the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) would not be able to take over the payment of social grants as planned, in spite of a letter written to SASSA’s lawyers warning of this.
The five-day inquiry, chaired by retired judge Bernard Ngoepe, began on Monday at the Office of the Chief Justice in Midrand.
Geoff Budlender, advocate for Black Sash Trust and Freedom Under Law, questioned Dlamini on the claim she made on Monday that she had only found out in October 2016 that SASSA would not make the deadline of March 2017 to take over the payment of social grants.
Budlender referred to a letter written to SASSA’s lawyers on 17 April 2016, stating that it would take “years rather than months” to take over social grants. The letter was seeking legal advice on how to proceed.
Budlender said Zodwa Mvulane, the project manager, had known about SASSA’s inability to meet the deadline since April 2016. Dlamini said she met with Mvulane at least once a month, but she said Mvulane had never mentioned that SASSA would not be able to meet the deadline.
“It must be clear that not a single person from SASSA said that the deadline could not be met. The only people who brought it to my attention in October 2016 were the legal work stream,” said Dlamini.
Budlender concluded his cross-examination by asking Dlamini whether she had taken any disciplinary action against Mvulane for failing to give her an important piece of information.
Dlamini said she knew that Mvulane was facing problems within SASSA which made her job difficult.
“I did not take disciplinary action because I know in these stressful situations, people are scared that they might lose their jobs,” Dlamini said.
The inquiry continues on Wednesday.
This article was originally published on Ground Up.
[Source: Ground Up]