SASSA crisis: Presidency summons social development DG

Meeting request follows news that agency had withdrawn its application to ConCourt

Sassa crisis: Presidency summons social development DG

1 March 2017

Cape Town - The director general of the Department of Social Development has been summoned to speak with the presidency.

Director general Zane Dangor on Thursday asked the portfolio committee on social development to be excused from a sitting on the grants crisis during the meeting as he was summoned by the presidency.

Dangor told journalists after the meeting that he was not sure of the details of the Presidency's request, only that he had to speak to the presidency immediately.

This followed the news, brought up in the committee by DA MP Evelyn Wilson, that Sassa had just withdrawn its application to the Constitutional Court to give it guidance on the CPS contract issue.

Presidency spokesperson Dr Bongani Ngqulunga though on Thursday said the president does not meet with director generals of departments, but only meets with ministers.

"On Sassa or the department of social development matters he speaks to Minister Bathabile Dlamini," Ngqulunga said.

"The minister is keeping the president briefed on development regarding the Sassa matter. The president is keen that social grant beneficiaries should not be inconvenienced on April 1, 2017."

Dangor told News24 that there had been a misunderstanding, and the he wasn't summoned to speak to the President, but the President's spokesperson.

"You know when the presidency calls you've got to answer."

He said the hurried way in which he asked to leave the meeting was misunderstood.

The department always intended to file a supplementary report with a statement of intent to the court, he said.

Minister Bathabile Dlamini always supported the statement of intent report, he said in answer to a question from News24.

He added he did not know the details of why the application was withdrawn, and will consult with the department when he flies back to Pretoria.

He also said that the absence of current CEO Thokozani Magwaza has nothing to do with the botched application at the Constitutional Court.

As far as he knows, Magwaza is ill, and not suspended, as reported in the media, he told News24.

CPS negotiations have begun

Sassa meanwhile has begun new contract negotiations with Cash Paymaster Services for the distribution of 17 millions social grants, MPs heard.

Sassa executive manager for grant payments Dianne Dunkerley told the portfolio committee that negotiations began in Pretoria on Wednesday and will conclude on Friday.

The negotiation will include terms on the ownership of beneficiary data, transaction charges, among others.

"I'm not able to say anything more at this stage, but do commit to give a fuller report to the committee next week."

Dunkerley said the department committed to submitting a report to the Constitutional Court, which is currently being dealt with by lawyers, and more details will be furnished next week.

The portfolio committee expressed its dismay that information was revealed on Tuesday during a Scopa meeting that was not revealed to the portfolio committee.

Dunkerley and Dangor both said their options have not changed in that regard, and that Sassa is not ready.

Dangor said CPS, although not the most desired option, is the most practical option at the moment.

He said, if all else fails, 90% of the beneficiaries have bank accounts with Grindrod. For the other 10%, they will have to deal with Post Bank, and physical pay points to distribute cash.