Military veterans up in arms over Sassa wages
In the same week in which former social development director-general Zane Dangor disputed Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s explanations about why she should not be held liable for the grants payment crisis, the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) was confronted with a labour emergency.
Sassa is facing an uproar in parts of Gauteng from disgruntled support workers dissatisfied with the R3 000 stipends they agreed to in January last year.
Some 450 military veterans were seconded to Sassa to perform duties such as grant capture and administration, as well as work as drivers, screeners and data capturers. They now have gripes with their employment conditions, including the stipends they agreed to until 2018.
The secondment was part of government’s job-creation interventions to curb the involvement of unemployed former soldiers in criminal acts such as cash-in-transit heists.
A representative of the workers told City Press this week that they were of the opinion that they were being underpaid.
He said the group felt they were being unfairly discriminated against as some colleagues were earning as much as R15 000 to R22 000. It was not clear in what capacity or professions these high-earning employees were serving.
He said Sassa chief executive officer Thokozani Magwaza and project head Zodwa Mvulane, who interviewed and facilitated the employment of the veterans last year, were aware of their grievances. Neither Magwaza nor social development spokesperson Lumka Oliphant had responded to media queries before going to press. Meanwhile, Dangor told the Constitutional Court this week in an affidavit that the failure by Sassa to take over the payment of grants at the end of the Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) contract last month was self-created.
Dangor, who left office last month, filed an affidavit to the Constitutional Court on Monday backing Magwaza’s statement about Dlamini, stating that she had taken over the agency’s job of facilitating the search and appointment of an alternative company to distribute the grants.
Dlamini blamed Sassa officials when asked by the court to explain her role in the crisis.
In his affidavit, Dangor said Dlamini chaired a meeting on October 5 last year at which the “work-stream” leaders she appointed to prepare for Sassa’s takeover of the payment system presented a progress report.
“The presentation indicated that little work had been done. The most significant element of their proposal was the recommendation that CPS be given a new contract for a period of two years.”
He said Dlamini had raised two concerns: that there might be legal challenges to a new contract with CPS and this might delay the payment of grants; and that a new contract might be “a political minefield and immoral”. This was in the context of “emerging evidence that CPS was involved in immoral and/or illegal deductions from the accounts of grant recipients”.
At a further meeting on October 22 there was still no firm plan for the takeover of the payment system. By then it was clear that – because of the “parallel reporting structure” Dlamini had set up in which the work-stream leaders reported directly to her – Magwaza and his team knew little about their work and “were excluded from the key decision-making process”, Dangor said.
Last week, Magwaza also filed an affidavit disputing Dlamini’s statements.