CAPE TOWN, Officials of the Department of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) have had to face the wrath of Members of Parliament for a second day in a row this week while Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini again did not show up at a Parliamentary Committee meeting again.
In her apologies to the Parliamentary Committee on Social Development, the Minister said she was expected at a Cabinet meeting, while the nation remains confused and in the dark about whether or not 17 million social grant beneficiaries will receive their money on the first of April.
On Wednesday, SASSA confirmed that it had withdrawn a statement of intent to the Constitutional Court, which indicates that it plans to continue its relationship with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) whose services it has been using to deliver social security payments to beneficiaries.
The application was withdrawn because supplementary papers need to be added. It was unclear exactly what these papers entailed but the department said this would not delay the process of finalising the social security payouts.
"It's not going to delay any process. The statement of intent is not seeking permission; it's just stating what SASSA intends to do in the negotiation process," said the Director-General of the Social Security Development, Zane Dangor.
Negotiations with CPS are currently underway, despite a 2014 Constitutional Court judgment ordering Sassa to use another service provider, and not CPS.
During the meeting, Dangor was summoned by the Presidency to return back to Pretoria. However, he did tell the committee that if all else failed, Sassa would use trucks to deliver to beneficiaries living in rural areas, with their grants delivered to them in cash.
SASSA's current contract with CPS ends on March 31 and it is unclear what plan will be in place thereafter and the MPs said they were worried about their communities.
"I am getting more worried here. If all else fails, how do we communicate this with our communities out there, saying 'Unfortunately system A won't be happening, system Z will be happening.' How will South Africa know?" asked ruling African National Congress (ANC) MP Bev Abrahams.
Meanwhile, the minister's absence is not being taken lightly.
"Members of the Executive are obliged under the Constitution to account to Parliament and therefore, it is unacceptable, it is out of order, for any member of the Executive, (who is ) called upon by Parliament or any of these committees, not to appear without any reason. So, we take a dim view of the fact that she didn't appear yesterday (Tuesday)," said the Committee Chairperson, Themba Godi.
Dlamini's promised press conference to clarify the issue, which was expected to happen on Wednesday, also did not materialise.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK