So­cial grants as­sur­ance

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

THE SUD­DEN de­par­ture of South Africa So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency chief ex­ec­u­tive Thokozani Mag­waza this week, af­ter only nine months in the job, has South Africans fear­ing the worst. There are many who be­lieve Mag­waza was forced to re­sign af­ter clash­ing with his po­lit­i­cal prin­ci­pal, So­cial Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini, over his in­sis­tence that the South African Post Of­fice take over from Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices next year to dis­trib­ute the monthly so­cial grants to the 17 mil­lion ben­e­fi­cia­ries who de­pend upon them to sur­vive.

Dlamini al­most or­ches­trated a to­tal so­cial catas­tro­phe ear­lier this year when, whether in­ten­tion­ally or through in­com­pe­tence, she left the Con­sti­tu­tional Court with no op­tion but to ex­tend and retroac­tively reg­u­larise an il­le­gal ar­range­ment with Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices to con­tinue ad­min­is­ter­ing and dis­pens­ing the grants, or face the real prospect of ren­der­ing al­most a third of the coun­try des­ti­tute for the im­me­di­ate fu­ture.

The Con­sti­tu­tional Court de­liv­ered an ex­co­ri­at­ing judg­ment on Dlamini’s com­pe­tency and her shirk­ing of her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, but it was not enough for her to be re­placed by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma dur­ing his un­prece­dented purge of the cab­i­net, in which many more-com­pe­tent min­is­ters were de­moted.

In the months since, the agency has been rocked by a wave of res­ig­na­tions among se­nior man­agers, fur­ther com­pro­mis­ing its abil­ity to ful­fil its man­date.

Now, erst­while ANC al­liance al­lies, the SACP and Cosatu, are de­mand­ing, along with the Black Sash, that Dlamini ac­count for the lat­est cri­sis.

There are fears that Mag­waza was forced out to thwart any moves to force Dlamini to pay for the costs of her abortive and vain de­fence of Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices as an unau­tho­rised and ef­fec­tively il­le­gal ser­vice provider.

This is a very dan­ger­ous ac­cu­sa­tion, but un­for­tu­nately well within the nar­ra­tive that the min­is­ter has al­ready au­thored her­self.

She owes it to her­self to come clean and pre­vent any fur­ther sul­ly­ing of her own rep­u­ta­tion, but most of all, we need to be as­sured that the pay­ment of grants will not be in jeop­ardy – and that her de­part­ment is ac­tu­ally do­ing not just what it is sup­posed to do, but what the apex court in this coun­try ac­tu­ally or­dered it to do.

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