Not enough for Dlamini to say she was negligent: ConCourt judge
Ernest Mabuza | 2017-03-15 15:07:29.0
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
Image by: RUVAN BOSHOFF
The fact that Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini admitted she was negligent in ensuring that the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) would be able to pay social grants on its own on April 1 was not a good enough explanation‚ a Constitutional Court judge has said.
Counsel for Dlamini and Sassa‚ Andrew Breitenbach SC‚ was in the court on Wednesday in response to an application by the Black Sash Trust‚ whereby the organisation wants the court to resume its supervisory jurisdiction for the payment of grants.
Breitenbach was facing a barrage of questions concerning his submissions to the court‚ especially on the oversight role of Dlamini to ensure Sassa was able to administer the payment of grants.
When asked whether the payment of grants was not Dlamini’s greatest responsibility‚ Breitenbach agreed and said the minister had accepted she was remiss. However‚ Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga said that for Dlamini to say she was remiss was simply not good enough. Breitenbach said Sassa was asking the Constitutional Court to make an order that it sign a new contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for 18 months for the payment of social grants until a new contractor is found.
However‚ Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng expressed concern that the court might find itself in the same situation in 18 months’ time‚ when no bidders are available and the court is forced to extend an illegal contract again.
Mogoeng was referring to an assurance given to the court in November 2015‚ when Sassa informed the court it would be able to pay the grant recipients on its own from April 2017‚ and that it would not open a new tender.
“Can Sassa not bring all the resources necessary‚ why can’t we just focus on Sassa to do what it exists to do‚” Mogoeng asked.
Breitenbach said Sassa could contract the service to other parties by means of a tender process.
“I am just saying we have a history of an illegality that was not resolved as a result of advertising with a view to getting contractors. Why cannot we focus on Sassa for the purpose of this case?” Mogoeng asked.
Mogoeng said he believed Sassa could carry out its mandate without outside help and that Sassa ought to able to do what it was created to do.
“The plan to take over everything now was over-ambitious. The solution may not be automatic insourcing or outsourcing‚” Breitenbach said.
Mogoeng said this admission was an unfortunate statement coming from Sassa. Breitenbach agreed with the Black Sash that the court was entitled to resume its supervisory duty because Sassa’s intention to take over from CPS had not materialised. The application continues.
– TMG Digital