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Public Protector to probe Dlamini, CPS relationship

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane wrote to ministers and directors-general of social development and finance two weeks ago regarding her intention to investigate.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane wrote to ministers and directors-general of social development and finance two weeks ago regarding her intention to investigate.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will investigate the relationship between social development minister, Bathabile Dlamini, and the company in charge of distributing social grants to 17 million South Africans – Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). This according to a report in the Business Day.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomed the announcement after DA shadow minister of social development, Bridget Masango, last week sent a letter to the Public Protector. Masango requested that Mkhwebane launch an investigation into the nature of the relationship between Dlamini and CPS "in reference to her handling of the social grants crisis which is currently unfolding under her watch".

"We have reason to believe that the social grants crisis is self-manufactured, and various reports have emerged about the minister being personally involved in delays to finding a new contract. We, as the Democratic Alliance, have reason to believe that the minister is acting improperly and exercising undue influence over the contract negotiations in pursuit of personal gain," Masango said in her letter.

The Public Protector's spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, told Business Day the DA's complaint would be added to Mkhwebane's "own-initiative investigation", and that she had already written to the ministers and directors-general of social development and finance two weeks ago to bring to their attention her intention to investigate. She wants answers on the apparent maladministration of the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) grants matter.

On Friday, ITWeb reported that the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) had ordered that a current invalid social grants payments contract with Net1 UEPS subsidiary, CPS, be extended for another 12 months. The contract to distribute social grants to 17 million South Africans was declared invalid by the ConCourt in 2014 and would have come to an end on 31 March this year. The highest court in the land, however, suspended the invalidity so grants could continue to be paid while SASSA makes another plan to take over the payment of grants itself.

Segalwe said the Public Protector has taken note of Friday's judgment by the ConCourt, but its decision did not mean she would stop investigating the causes of the delay in implementing the previous judgment.

Delivering the ConCourt judgment last week, justice Johan Froneman said the process that led to the judgment is based on the failure of Dlamini and SASSA to keep their promise to the court and the people of SA.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported that Dlamini was called to a meeting with the ANC's integrity commission in Rivonia over the weekend, to discuss her involvement in the social grants fiasco. The commission, run by party veterans, was set up in 2013 to protect its image when members have had criminal charges brought against them.

In an interview with the Sunday newspaper, Dlamini said, prior to meeting with the commission, she was not the only one to blame, and blamed her officials for the crisis. She said she would not voluntarily step down from her post, and it was up to the president, Jacob Zuma, to remove her from his cabinet.


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