South African Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini bypassed officials at the country’s welfare department and helped create a crisis that would ensure that Net1 UEPS Technologies would continue to distribute payments on behalf of the government, her former director-general said.
The minister created a parallel structure where so-called work streams headed by officials other than executives at the department advised her on how to comply with a 2014 Constitutional Court order that a new distributor be found after Net1’s contract was declared invalid, former director-general Zane Dangor said in a court affidavit. On March 17 the court ordered Net1’s Cash Paymaster Services unit, whose contract expired at the end of March, to continue making the payments for another year because the ministry hadn’t come up with an alternative.
“The parallel decision-making structures in the form of the work streams may have been deliberate to ensure a continued relationship with CPS under conditions favourable to CPS, through a self-created emergency,” he said. The affidavit was filed in response to a submission by the minister that she was not liable to personally pay legal costs because the welfare department and its chief executive officer, Thokozani Magwaza, had been to blame for the crisis.
The court made its March ruling after human rights group The Black Sash Trust applied to it with the aim of ensuring grants were paid legally to more than 17 million people after the end of March and that any relationship between the welfare department and the Net1 unit would be supervised by the court.
Dangor included a copy of his March 3 resignation letter in which he said he had been accused of racism and sexism by the minister by mobile phone text message and had been belittled by her in front of staff at the welfare department.
Dangor’s affidavit, along with one submitted by Magwaza, strengthen a call for a parliamentary inquiry into how the contract was handled, the opposition Democratic Alliance said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
“It became very clear that there were senior executives in Sassa, Social Development and Treasury who wanted to do the right things, but there was this political pressure for them not to do so,” Themba Godi, chairman for Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts, said in an interview, according to GroundUp, an online news site. “As Scopa, we’ve been adamant that the minister must take ultimate, sole and personal responsibility for the crisis at Sassa.”
Dlamini has fired her special adviser, the Johannesburg-based Daily Maverick news website reported on Tuesday.
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