The chief executive of the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) Thokozani Magwaza has defended Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini against protesters who were calling for her to resign.
Magwaza, who returned to work today after two weeks on sick leave, accepted a memorandum from protesters at a picket at the SASSA offices in Pretoria on Monday.
Responding to calls from protesters for Dlamini to resign, Magwaza said: “I stand by the minister because I have been working with her all this time and she has been on the side of doing certain things, and the other things that have been happening have been out of her control. I cannot agree with you that the minister should resign.”
Magwaza thanked the protesters from the Right2Know campaign for submitting the memorandum and signed for it on behalf of SASSA.
Protesters sang songs calling for the removal of Dlamini. One protester held up a sign questioning why it took the minister “3 years to sort out this mess”.
The protest was held in support of the Black Sash, which has filed an application to the Constitutional Court asking the Court to take back oversight of the social grant payment contract after SASSA’s failure to run the payment system itself. The agency was to take over the payments from current contractor Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) by 31 March but has acknowledged it will not be able to do so and is negotiating a new contract with CPS. The matter is to be heard on 15 March.
“We do not have an issue with the Black Sash going to court,” Magwaza told the protesters. “We as SASSA have not opposed to this. We are saying that people will be paid by the first of April and we are standing by that,” said Magwaza.
He said he was working on the affidavit which SASSA will have to submit to the Constitutional Court, answering questions which were similar to those raised by Right2know.
The provincial co-ordinator of Right2Know, General Moyo, said that Magwaza had failed to address their questions.
“We are not satisfied with these answers from the CEO. That is why on 22 March we will be having another much bigger march to make sure that before the first of April they must answer clearly all of our concerns.”
“We are also asking the minister, Bathabile Dlamini, to step down because she has failed in her constitutional duties and obligations. Government must take full responsibility to ensure that the 17 million grant recipients get their money come the first of April and that there won’t be any deductions made from them,” said Moyo, holding a poster reading “Dlamini must go”.
“People are panicking, some are really scared. People are just not sure what will happen on the first of April,” said Moyo.
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