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Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

Quit a number of south Africans are poor – 17 million of the country’s poorest population are expected to receive some social grants from the government which will help them to sustain life. This action of assisting the poor with social grants was not put into practice due to the combination of government incompetence, suspected corruption and private sector greed.

The Social Development Minister Bathebile Dlamini has placed the blame for the social grants crisis, squarely at the door of social security agency CEO Thokozane Magwaza. This as the South African Post Office, a parastatal, claims that it can administer the grant payments to recipients while organisations like the Black Sash are calling for stricter oversight by the Constitutional Court to ensure that 17 million recipients, receive their money on April 1, 2017.

Consequently, Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini will be held in contempt of court for failing to respect the Constitutional Court’s 2014 order on the payment of social grants. Previously, in 2013, the Constitutional Court ruled that a contract concluded between the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to distribute social grants across South Africa was unlawful, and therefore invalid. The implication is that the contact must be fulfilled and the court felt it would be easier if the contract had never been signed.

In addition, SASSA was required to run a new tender process to lawfully appoint a service provider for grants distribution. At the end of this tender process, SASSA could decide whether to award the tender or not. If it decided not to award the tender, the unlawful contract between SASSA and CPS would continue to run until the completion of the original five year period of the contract. If it decided not to award the tender, SASSA would be asked to lodge a report with the Constitutional Court, explaining whether and when it would be ready to pay the social grants itself.

In other words, SASSA was required either to issue another tender or to start distributing grants itself. The Constitutional Court’s primary concern was that the distribution of grants must not be interrupted, it must start and continue till the end.

On 5 November 2015, SASSA filled a progress report stating that it could take over the distribution of grants itself by 1 April 2017. At that time, it was too late to lawfully appoint another service provider while making sure that the payment of grants was not interrupted.

As a matter of fact, SASSA has failed to properly implement the 2014 court order due to carelessly and suspected corruption. The Constitution (section 96) of the country provides that Ministers are accountable individually to the President and to the National Assembly for the proper administration of their portfolios. Executive oversight of SASSA’s activities is part of Minister Dlamini’s portfolio and it is up to the Parliament and the President is expected to hold her accountable for her negligent behaviour. She should be removed from any position of power completely and permanently as suggested by the court. However, she has repeatedly failed to present herself to the court when called to account before Parliament and the President has shown no signs of being inclined to trigger her removal.

It is expected that a country’s leader should strike a balance between the poor and the rich. Also, every benefit aportioned to the poor should be strictly adhere to. The court has assured that the social grant will be received by the poor from 1st April 2017. This will definitely bring smiles to the faces of the poor people in South Africa.

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