During this afternoon’s question and answer session in Parliament, President Jacob Zuma told MPs he can not reshuffle Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini as he would prefer her to implement the Constitutional Court judgement on the SASSA/CPS matter.
Pressured by DA leader Mmmusi Maimane and IFP’s Lizelle van der Merwe to tell Parliament why he had so far failed to remove the minister Maimane described as Zuma’s “worst”, Zuma said he would not remove Dlamini, as he suspected he may be held in contempt of court.
“The [Constitutional] Court gave an order to that minister [Dlamini] … that minister is to do that order. If you remove her who is going to do that order. What would I say to the court if I remove her before she can deliver the order,” Zuma said to growing heckles from the opposition benches.
Poverty and suicide raised
Van der Merwe had asked Zuma if he was willing to take responsibility for the current Sassa crisis playing itself out in Parliament. She also said under Zuma’s leadership the country was poorer, and children as young as eight commited suicide: “I want to ask you as the chairperson of inter-ministerial committee on social development [what have you done to resolve the impasse]?”
Zuma decided to answer the question despite backbencher Bhekizizwe Radebe rising on a point of order arguing it’s a new question. He told Speaker Baleka Mbete he wanted to help those “who need the information”.
“I am happy that the honourable member started at the real problem of poverty. Poverty didn’t start now. It is a direct baby of apartheid, particularly to the majority. They were deprived of everything… Apartheid thought they didn’t need education because they are not going to work at important places. All they needed was [know how to]speak to baas.
“Don’t speak about poverty as if it is the problem of this government. The reason we have a scheme to look after those who are hungry is a direct results of this problem. Sassa is there to address the problems created by system of apartheid. When problems [arose] in Sassa we established this committee and I have been chairing it,” Zuma told the House to loud cheers from the ANC benches.
He also informed lawmakers that he has already “talked” with Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, about addressing the relationship between Sassa and Sapo. “The minister is meeting them [Sassa and Sapo]. I am aware of it and I have chaired those meetings,” Zuma continued.
Maimane told Zuma: “What is not a problem of apartheid is Bathabile Dlamini.”
“There is a looming crisis you have just described. She is incompetent and can’t do the job of delivering grants to SA. She sidelined officials. While you are reshuffling every month why have you kept her in the job,” Maimane asked.
“I don’t know why the honourable member is defending apartheid, you are a victim of apartheid. Emhlabeni ka skhotheni.”
This response evoked energetic interjections from the DA, with several of the party MPs accusing Zuma of “twisting the truth.”
He responded that if opposing MPs were expecting answers from him, they should ask direct questions. “You come with innuendo, I answer innuendo.”
“She [Dlamini] is with dealing the problem of solving the problems that emerge. She is part of the committee that is solving the problem. The court gave an order to that minister. That minister is to do that order. If you remove her who is going to do that order. What would I would say to the constitutional court if I remove her before she can deliver the order,” Zuma retorted.
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