New Sassa boss tops Dlamini’s to-do list

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - NOKUTHULA ZWANE nokuthula.zwane@inl.co.za @Zwane2li2ls

MIN­IS­TER of So­cial Devel­op­ment Batha­bile Dlamini has made it clear that the process of ap­point­ing a new SA So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency chief ex­ec­u­tive is among her pri­or­i­ties.

This fol­lows her de­ci­sion to ap­point Pearl Bhengu as in­terim Sassa head af­ter she and former chief ex­ec­u­tive Thokozani Mag­waza mu­tu­ally agreed to ter­mi­nate his con­tract, ac­cord­ing to De­part­ment of So­cial Devel­op­ment spokesper­son Lumka Oliphant.

Oliphant said Bhengu, who had been serv­ing as Sassa re­gional man­ager in KwaZulu-Natal since 2012, would be­gin her in­terim du­ties with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

“The min­is­ter stated that the first pri­or­ity of the act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive is to sta­bilise the agency and to en­sure it fo­cuses on its con­sti­tu­tional man­date of ad­min­is­ter­ing and pay­ing so­cial grants in line with the Sassa Act,” said Oliphant in a state­ment.

“The min­is­ter made it clear that the process of ap­point­ing a new chief ex­ec­u­tive is very high on her list of things to do,” said Oliphant.

DA spokesper­son on so­cial devel­op­ment Brid­get Masango ex­pressed her con­cern over the ap­point­ment of some­one out­side the Sassa ex­ec­u­tive and the de­part­ment.

Masango said: “My con­cern is that we are in a crit­i­cal time in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court orders on the grant pay­ment sys­tems.

“One would have thought that she (the min­is­ter) would have ap­pointed – and this is en­tirely her pre­rog­a­tive to ap­point whomever she wants – some­one who is within the Sassa en­vi­ron­ment, a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive,” she added.

Masango told The Star that she was aware that the min­is­ter had the right to ap­point who­ever she wished, but she was con­cerned about who the in­terim chief ex­ec­u­tive was, es­pe­cially at such a crit­i­cal time.

In terms of who should have been given the po­si­tion, Masango said a suit­able can­di­date for the po­si­tion would have been some­one like Raphahle Ramok­gopa.

“She has been in­ti­mately in­volved in this tran­si­tional pe­riod even be­fore the March 2017 Con­sti­tu­tional Court orders.

“She has been run­ning with this project,” said Masango.

Ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports ear­lier this week, Dlamini and Mag­waza had agreed to ter­mi­nate his con­tract be­cause of their dif­fer­ing views on us­ing the SA Post Of­fice Bank to dis­trib­ute the so­cial grants and to work out a plan to phase out Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices as the dis­trib­u­tor of grants.

Mag­waza joined a long list of di­rec­tors-gen­eral and se­nior of­fi­cials in gov­ern­ment who have had their con­tracts ter­mi­nated in re­cent months.

PIC­TURE: DAVID RITCHIE

DIF­FER­ING VIEWS: So­cial Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini with­Thokozani Mag­waza, whose ser­vices as Sassa chief ex­ec­u­tive have been ter­mi­nated.

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