social grants inquiry postponed


JOHANNESBURG, January 26 – Retired Judge Bernard Ngoepe on Friday postponed the inquiry into South Africa’s social grants after indicating that he was not feeling well.

“I am not feeling well and can’t go beyond this point, I am sorry. I really tried keeping myself together but am not well,” he said.

Ngoepe had in the morning said he was not well but continued to chair the Constitutional Court-mandated inquiry.

Former SA Social Security (SASSA) CEO Thokozani Magwaza was testifying on Friday after Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini wrapped up her testimony on Thursday.

Magwaza told the inquiry about the work streams and how they created an impossible working environment at SASSA. The work streams were advisory groups appointed by Dlamini in 2015 to help SASSA migrate to paying out social grants by March 2017 deadline after the Constitutional Court ruling.

The contentious work-streams reported directly to Dlamini and cost taxpayers a reported R47 million. Magwaza was sidelined by Dlamini and Zodwa Mvulane, SASSA’s project manager responsible for the grants payment transition. She ignored her executives and instead worked side by side with the work streams, and reported everything to Dlamini, Magwaza said.

The work-streams contracts were terminated last year after Treasury informed the department that the appointments were illegal as SASSA did not seek deviation from tender in time from Treasury as required, rendering the project irregular.

The  job of the work-streams was seen as parallel to that of SASSA officials, pitting Magwaza and the department’s former director general Zane Dangor against Dlamini.

In her testimony, Dlamini blamed Magwaza for the grants crisis. She said problems at SASSA started after his appointment as CEO in November 2016. It got worse when Dlamini filed an affidavit in the Constitutional Court in which she accused Dlamini of lying to the court and tried putting the blame on SASSA executives led by Magwaza.

The inquiry will resume on February 2.

– African News Agency (ANA)