'Bathabile Dlamini wanted to run Sassa like her shop'

Former South African Social Security Agency chief executive Thokozani Magwaza has accused social development minister Bathabile Dlamini of running Sassa like her own shop.

“The problem is that the minister was running Sassa as her shop.She disturbed the smooth running of the organisation‚” Magwaza told an inquiry into Dlamini’s role in the social grants crisis on Friday.

The inquiry kicked off on Monday and is a directive of the Constitutional Court‚ which ordered that an inquiry be established to set out Dlamini’s roles and responsibilities as social development minister. The court ordered that all parties involved in the matter appoint a judge to investigate whether Dlamini should be held liable for the grants saga. Retired judge Bernard Ngoepe is heading the inquiry.

The Black Sash Trust approached the court in March after the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) acknowledged it would not be able to pay millions of grants from April 1‚ despite promising the court in November 2015 it would do so.

Dlamini has maintained she is not to blame for the Sassa’s failure to meet the deadline.

She has accused Magwaza of being a trouble-maker and for interrupting the implementation process.

Magwaza has shot back‚ telling the inquiry that Dlamini did not allow him and other executive members of Sassa to do their job.

He said Dlamini would show up at Sassa offices and at meetings she was not supposed to be part of.

“The minister once came to a normal executive committee meeting. She had not indicated that she would attend the meeting. I gave her an opportunity to address the meeting‚ but she said she would speak after Miss Mvulane has done her presentation‚” Magwaza said.

He said he then suggested that the minutes of the meeting be skipped and Mvulane be given an opportunity to do her presentation.

“All hell broke loose when Mvulane was done presenting. The Minister said I did not like the work streams and that I am not giving them a chance to do their job.

“She told me to not interrupt the work streams and instead focus on the day-to-day running of Sassa.”

Magwaza said Dlamini stormed out of the meeting without giving him a chance to address her.

“I followed her and asked her to come back so we can discuss the issue. I told her she had villified and belittled me in front of my staff. She did not say a word and she left.”

Magwaza told the inquiry that it was a well known fact that the executive committee of Sassa was marginalised by Dlamini when it came to the running of the work streams‚ which she had set up to execute the payment of social grants.

He said the work streams continued to report directly to Dlamini‚ despite him having expressed his discomfort to Mvulane and the leaders of the work streams about how the work was done.

“The work streams were appointed to implement and not report to the minister‚” Mgwaza said.

“I had a meeting with them and said it would be prudent for them to consult the executive committee before starting their work. They apologised‚ but they still continued to report to the minister.”

He said he had done everything he could in relation to the social grants crisis.

- TimesLIVE