The Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, has noted media reports purporting that there is enmity between herself and the Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan. The Minister wishes to put on record that such allegations are malicious and are intended to wedge a division between herself and the Minister who is a colleague in a collective cabinet led by the ANC, which deployed both of them to serve the people of South Africa.
Minister rebutts reports that she rejected Minister Gordhan's option. The Minister wishes to categorically state, by its nature, presentation of various options as cited by National Treasury in a statement recently afford her an opportunity to choose one. This does not mean the rejection of others. All correspondence between the two executives were part of the process of seeking solutions and therefore expressing views on the pros and cons to options presented to both principals by a joint committee that was established inclusive of National Treasury, SARB and DSD. Therefore, the options are an outcome of a collective process and options are no longer viewed as individual options. There is therefore no Dlamini option or Gordhan option.
The task team acknowledged that all options have pros and cons. It is the responsibility of Minister Dlamini to decide which option will ensure that social grant beneficiaries receive their social grant on April 1, 2017 without interruptions.
This is in the context that the social grants are a Constitutional right for South Africans and the Department of Social Development through SASSA has a constitutional mandate to administer and pay social grants even on April 1, 2017.
Minister Dlamini has also noted the malicious and deliberate attempts to mislead South Africans about the legal opinion given by Wim Trengrove SC and his role within SASSA. Wim Trengrove SC was commissioned by the work-stream on Legal and Regulatory as appointed by the Minister. His opinion was sought upon realising that certain deliverables and time frames set to be achieved towards taking over the social grant payment function may not be achieved.
The SC's opinion was sought on the following inter alia questions;
- Whether SASSA will be in contempt if it does not take over the payment of social grants when the current agreement with CPS expires on March 31, 2017 pending SASSA taking over in full the social grant payment functions.
- Whether SASSA can approach the Constitutional Court (considering the fact that the Court had discharged its supervisory jurisdiction over the matter) with a view to enable the lawful continuation of the agreement with CPS.
- Whether SASSA is in anyway obliged to approach the Constitutional Court and lastly;
- How to approach negotiations and conclusions of an agreement with CPS for services after the 31 March 2017 in a lawful manner.
Therefore, the comprehensive opinion by Win Tengrove SC was part of the Minister's attempt to make SASSA a better organization.
It was one of three legal opinions sought, given the complex legal issues associated with a contract deemed invalid by the country's highest court. The complexity is excarcebated by the fact that potential legal landmines could result in delays caused by vexatious litigation that may serve to rob the poor from access to their constitutional entitlements.
Given this, the Minister is well aware of the fact that both the National Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank as a regulator are key partners in safely transferring funds to millions of people every month. The Minister of Social Development, therefore, would not under any circumstances wish to see a weakened Minister of Finance and a weakened Treasury. We know that this feeling is mutual; and this was demonstrated by the COLLABORATION of the two Departments, SASSA and the SARB’S most senior officials on strategies to ensure that we are able pay grants on the 1 April 2017 and beyond.
We wish to extend this partnership further as we negotiate as a government team on the Consolidated Government Document on Comprehensive Social Security at NEDLAC. The Minister values the principle and that of 'joined up' government as it is crucial to meet the needs of all the poor and vulnerable.
Minister Dlamini would like to reiterate that DSD and SASSA have developed an approach which includes approaching the Constitutional Court and that no formal negotiations have started with CPS. It is also essential to mention that the inclusion of biometric verification is a prerequisite and any solution will have to include it.
Biometric verification is integral to the grant application and payment administration - for the latter it is used for:
a) Validation as well as the one too many searches to eliminate duplication of beneficiaries,
b) Eliminating fraud and corruption,
c) Proving life to ensure payment is effected to the right beneficiaries.
Minister Dlamini wishes to assure all social grant beneficiaries that there will be no disruption to the payment of their grants and that their social grants will be paid on April 1, 2017.
Issued by GCIS on behalf of the Department of Social Development