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'We will take you to court' – EFF warns Dlamini

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'We will take you to court' – EFF warns Dlamini

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini

8th November 2017

By: News24Wire

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The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has warned Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini that they will take her to court if she attempts to "bring in her friends" to resolve the social grants deadlock.

On Tuesday, opposition MPs once again laid into Dlamini in the National Assembly during a debate on the recommendations for her next budget - the biggest in the fiscus.

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During a round of declarations, MPs zeroed in on Dlamini's handling of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants deadlock with the Post Office.

Sassa has until March 31, 2018, to find a new service provider to replace invalid incumbent Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) in the nationwide social grants scheme.

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"Minister Dlamini has held the country at ransom before and the Constitutional Court had no choice but to extend the [invalid] CPS contract by a year.

"She is now trying to do the same by sidelining the Post Office. We are not going to allow that. You are not going to outsource on our watch," Ntombovuyo Mente warned.

Mente added that the country could not afford to spend R170-million a month to outsource the grants scheme when it could save money with the Post Office.

"If the ANC is going to sit around and watch Minister Dlamini bring in her friends, we are going to take you to court and you are going to be liable on your own, not through the department," she said to the minister.

Dlamini could be seen smiling and answering from her seat as MPs stepped up to the podium to deliver their take on her budget.

'How can we be surprised?'

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Lindy Wilson said Dlamini showed total disregard for both her position and the poor and vulnerable.

The Auditor-General's report on Sassa and the National Youth Development Agency, which report to Dlamini, reflected a "sad state of affairs".

"When a minister, who repeatedly closes her eyes to a crisis she has willingly created at Sassa, and leads the portfolio committee on a merry-go-round with her lack of honesty and transparency, how can we be surprised?"

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said Sassa's inability to migrate the social grants scheme from CPS was Dlamini's biggest indictment.

"The department is hell-bent on maintaining the bosom relationship it has with CPS.

"They can't even adhere to their own timelines."

The bottom line is that the Department of Social Development was engineering a crisis, he said.

National Freedom Party MP Maliyakhe Shelembe said the department does not inspire confidence, while United Democratic Movement MP Cynthia Majeke said "unscrupulous" grant deductions were still a threat.

Sassa 'not Dlamini's only responsibility'

African National Congress MP and chairperson of the social development portfolio committee Rosemary Capa was Dlamini's only supporter on Tuesday, saying MPs should acknowledge that her department received an unqualified audit opinion as a whole.

Sassa was only one of many entities that reported to her.

"This department is not the 'department of Sassa'. Sassa is an agency that is used to assist social development.

"There are other functions the department is responsible for where it has done well," Capa said.

Capa said the issue of the current deadlock with the Post Office will technically only fall under the next financial year's budget review report, and the ANC supported the report.

The EFF was the only party to formally object to the report's adoption.

The department's budget is the largest in the government, at over R160-billion a year - about double the second-highest of R84-billion allocated to the Ministry of Police.

More than 90% of the budget is safeguarded by the Treasury for the monthly distribution of all social grant programmes.

The remainder is used for the department's day-to-day operations.

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