Weekend Post (South Africa)

Calls mount for Dlamini to be sacked

Human Rights Commission calls for urgent meeting on social grants as archbishop labels minister ‘inept’


AS calls for the head of Minister of Social Developmen­t Bathabile Dlamini grow louder‚ the South African Human Rights Commission called yesterday for an urgent top-level meeting over the lack of clarity on the payment of social grants after March 31.

Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkul­u Ndungane has called for Dlamini to resign immediatel­y‚ joining Cosatu‚ which said on Thursday the minister should quit.

Adding to the pressure‚ the DA has applied for permission for a march to the Department of Social Developmen­t in Tshwane next Friday.

The party has also asked to be an applicant in the social grants case before the Constituti­onal Court relating to the South Africa Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) failure to prepare for paying social grants to millions of vulnerable citizens from April 1.

The DA said the crisis could have been avoided and that it had been created by Dlamini‚ saying that it had been manufactur­ed for corrupt purposes.

“Sassa’s current state of crisis is entirely self-engineered‚ and was easily avoided had the minister shown a shred of commitment to the needs of vulnerable grant dependents‚” the DA said.

In its call for a meeting with the minister and Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza‚ the Human Rights Commission said it had been closely monitoring the progress in relation to the payment of grants.

It said it had noted “the trou- bling reports that social grants may not be paid as from April 2017 and is deeply concerned by the devastatin­g impact the potential non-payment of social grants could have on millions of vulnerable households for whom grants represent the sole form of regular income.

“More than half of all households in SA benefit from social assistance‚ and for 22% of these households‚ social grants are their main source of income.

“As such‚ social assistance provides a safety net for some of the most vulnerable in our society.”

Archbishop Ndungane said if social grants were not paid after April 1‚ the consequenc­es for the poorest of the poor in South Africa would be nothing short of catastroph­ic.

He said the disorganis­ation and lack of clarity on the part of both the department and Sassa was a disgrace.

“Minister Dlamini has shown herself to be totally inept and should resign immediatel­y‚ failing which the president should fire her.

“The president himself should also take responsibi­lity for not managing this situation properly and allowing this fiasco to happen under his watch‚” the archbishop said.

Ndungane questioned whether South Africa’s political leadership retained any semblance of empathy for the poor.

“Not getting one’s social grant is not simply an inconvenie­nce; it’s a calamity.

“Many of these people have no other income on which to depend.”

Ndungane said the ANC-led government had lost touch with ordinary people.

“They have forgotten the poor in the dusty plains of the Northern Cape who eke out a living. They have forgotten the poverty-stricken in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal‚ where old people hobble along to stand in long queues to receive a social grant that‚ in any event‚ most people would struggle to survive on.”

Cosatu general-secretary Bheki Ntshalints­hali said: “The minister and her team in the department need to take political responsibi­lity for this crisis by resigning – or they must be dismissed.”

Meanwhile, the national Treasury says it is not participat­ing in negotiatio­ns with Cash Paymaster Services for the contract for grant payments.

The Department of Social Developmen­t had requested the Treasury’s participat­ion but was told the request could not be favourably considered as its involvemen­t would amount to “a conflict of interest”.

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