Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini briefs media in Pretoria on steps to take over the payment of social grants. PHOTO: ANA Reporter

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‘No issues with workstreams’ – Minister Dlamini testifies at Sassa inquiry

JOHANNESBURG, January 22 – None of the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) bosses had a problem with the work of appointed advisory groups called work-streams, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said on Monday.

Speaking in isiZulu, Dlamini began her testimony at the Sassa inquiry about her role in the social grants saga before retired judge Bernard Ngoepe.

“The work-streams were never a problem for executives – starting from [former CEO] Virginia Pietersen. At the time of work-streams at Sassa, I worked together with [Thokazani] Magwaza when he was acting deputy director general of the department,” Dlamini said.

“They did a lot of work and did point out that it was not possible to finish work within the court’s deadline…them reporting to me directly did not mean that the work of the Sassa executives was being undermined.”

The contentious work-streams were appointed to help Sassa provide a new service provider to take over the payment of social grants. The work-streams reported directly to Dlamini and cost taxpayers a reported R47 million.

Appointment of the workstreams did not go to tender due to time constraints, said Dlamini. She added that appointing a company would have been expensive, hence the appointment of work-streams.

Dlamini terminated work-streams contracts last year after Treasury informed the department that the appointments were illegal as Sassa had not sought permission for a deviation from tender processes in time from Treasury, as required, rendering the project irregular.

The  job of work-streams was seen as parallel to that of Sassa officials, pitting Magwaza against Dlamini following his appointment as Sassa CEO.

The Constitutional Court had to intervene last year in the social grants saga after the department failed to secure a new service provider to replace Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), after the contract was found to be illegal by the court in 2014.

The court was forced to allow CPS grant distribution for 12 months as the possibility of millions of beneficiaries not receiving grant pay-outs became imminent.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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