Why Zuma won’t fire ‘absolutely incompetent’ Dlamini – reports
The ANC called the minister to account for herself over the weekend, but she may be too valuable to the president to axe.
South Africa’s Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini with President Jacob Zuma. GCIS
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is in the firing line, with the ANC’s integrity commission summoning her to an urgent meeting on Saturday to explain her role in the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) debacle, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
Luthuli House is reportedly considering taking action against her after the Constitutional Court lambasted her for “absolute incompetence” and a display of naked carelessness for a self-made crisis over who would pay 17 million vulnerable grant beneficiaries.
The contract with payment service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) was ending at the end of March and should not have been renewed due to the fact that the original contract with the company was already judged illegal in 2013.
However, the court extended the contract for 12 months, with major oversight conditions in place to ensure that Sassa either takes over the payments itself or has a new provider in place before the 12-month extension elapses.
Dlamini may also have to pay as much as R5 million from her own pocket for the associated legal costs for Sassa if the Concourt is not satisfied with her reasons for why she should not be held personally accountable for them.
The minister told the Sunday Times that she would tell the court about all the steps she had supposedly taken to avert the crisis. She said she was only responsible “to a certain extent”. She added that she had no plans to voluntarily step down.
Dlamini has subsequently played the blame game, telling the media that she blamed her officials for the crisis. Along with criticising Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for giving her contradictory messages at times, she in particular blamed Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza for allegedly frustrating her attempts to comply with the 2014 Concourt order.
Magwaza, in turn, has charged that it was in fact the other way around, with the minister frustrating his attempts to comply. Sassa officials told the Sunday Times they concurred with this view, alleging the CEO was victimised for “trying to do the right things”.
Magwaza told the paper he had “prayed” for the Concourt judgment, which would finally see the departure of CPS, which he accuses of sharing beneficiaries’ personal information. The Concourt will be using auditors to ensure this cannot continue to happen.
As for whether Dlamini will actually be fired, an analyst told City Press that was unlikely. Xolani Dube reminded the Sunday paper that the minister is also the ANC Women’s League president. That group’s votes for Zuma’s preferred successor, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, perhaps makes her too valuable to him to fire.
However, even if she is axed as a minister, she would remain the women’s league president. Despite being barred from making pronouncements on who should lead the ANC next, Dlamini has done nothing to disguise her preferred choice.