Grants pay­out woes con­tinue

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS - MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA

TEN­SIONS are brew­ing in Par­lia­ment over which com­mit­tee should play an over­sight role on the phas­ing out of Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices in the dis­tri­bu­tion of so­cial pen­sion grants.

This has now pit­ted the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Pub­lic Ac­counts (Scopa) against the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on so­cial de­vel­op­ment in a turf war.

So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini has even en­tered into the fray by seek­ing the in­ter­ven­tion from Speaker Baleka Mbete as her of­fi­cials dab­ble in re­port­ing be­tween the two com­mit­tees al­most weekly.

This is on top of quar­terly re­ports to be made to the Con­sti­tu­tional Court and the usual re­port­ing to the com­mit­tee play­ing over­sight on the depart­ment.

Wors­en­ing mat­ters is the com­mit­tee’s frus­tra­tion to get re­ports on the work of ex­perts ap­pointed by court to mon­i­tor Sassa and ac­count to Au­di­tor-Gen­eral Kimi Mak­wetu..

The mat­ter has es­ca­lated to a point where the so­cial de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee is now seek­ing le­gal ad­vice. This is to de­ter­mine if Scopa is not over­step­ping its role to make the South African So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency (Sassa) ac­count when there is no au­dit find­ing.

Dlamini let the cat out of the bag when she ap­peared be­fore the com­mit­tee this week, say­ing her depart­ment has raised their con­cerns to Mbete.

“We are wait­ing for (a) re­sponse,” Dlamini said.

In her let­ter, Dlamini com­plained of over­lap be­tween Scopa and the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee and the of­fi­cials’ ap­pear­ances to com­mit­tee meetings.

“I write to ex­press my con­cern and seek your in­ter­ven­tion in the man­ner in which Scopa is in­creas­ingly over­step­ping the bound­aries of its man­date with re­gard to the work of the South African So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency,” she wrote.

“We are con­cerned about the oner­ous re­port­ing re­quire­ments placed on Sassa of­fi­cials who are called to ap­pear al­most ev­ery week,” Dlamini added.

She com­plained to the com­mit­tee about a meet­ing with Scopa ear­lier in the week where they were asked about not yet award­ing the ten­der for the dis­tri­bu­tion of pen­sion grants to the South African Post Of­fice.

“We are un­fairly treated when it comes to that is­sue,” she said.

“We are be­ing com­pro­mised in the name of do­ing jus­tice,” Dlamini added.

Com­mit­tee chair­per­son Zoleka Capa said they ap­pre­ci­ated that Dlamini wanted Mbete to in­ter­vene, es­pe­cially on which “com­mit­tee to be pri­ori­tised and which to be marginalised”.

Capa told of how the com­mit­tee had gone to KwaZulu-Natal on an over­sight visit with­out the depart­ment, Sassa and Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Agency be­cause of­fi­cials had to re­port to Scopa.

The pulling apart of the of­fi­cials, ac­cord­ing to Capa, ex­tended to the re­port­ing on work re­lated to re­ports to the Con­sti­tu­tional Court with the panel of ex­perts pri­ori­tised.

“This is over­rid­ing and fly­ing over the face of port­fo­lio com­mit­tee...”

The sit­u­a­tion has prompted the com­mit­tee to seek a meet­ing with Mak­wetu on Tues­day and also so­licit le­gal ad­vice.

“This mat­ter can­not be a mat­ter of con­flict so law must come in,” Capa said.

In an interview with In­de­pen­dent Me­dia, Capa said the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee was re­spon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing and play­ing over­sight over the depart­ment while Scopa dealt with au­dit find­ings.

She said le­gal opin­ion would be fol­lowed by a bi­lat­eral meet­ing with whips and chairs of Scopa as they wanted to as­cer­tain le­gal facts.

But, Scopa chair­per­son Themba Godi said he was un­aware that the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee had con­cerns, and that he only heard ru­mours about Dlamini seek­ing in­ter­ven­tion from Mbete.

“I’m shocked to hear that the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee is seek­ing le­gal opin­ion on whether we are over­step­ping the mark,” Godi said.

He also said they were a phone call away if there were is­sues of con­cern and that com­mit­tee of chairs Cedric Frolick should have been roped in.

“We have been mind­ful of our work. One thing we won’t do is to be told by the ex­ec­u­tive how we must do our work,” Godi said.

“In­stead they must do their work and we will get off their back,” he said, adding that the so­cial grant con­tract was too im­por­tant to be left to the of­fi­cials alone.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.