Our Zuptoid-led government seems to have shifted from not knowing what it cannot do (and denying dysfunction) to being shaken into realising what it cannot do; as evidenced by the inter-ministerial committee now set up to ensure social grants are paid smoothly and on time. Examples abound of the first default check on so many prospective tenders being; how can it benefit our network or ourselves? Followed by (or including); maybe we can’t do this – so let’s farm it out to the private or NGO sector, then claim as much credit as possible. Except in Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini’s case, the court-declared irregularity of the Net1 UEPS Technologies tender has exposed her apparent gross incompetence. So, what does President Zuma, the man who once so stoutly defended his handy political ally, do? Sets up an oversight committee to prevent any more mess-ups while his party “apologises unreservedly”. Most cynically and ironically, the ANC is probing Dlamini’s lack of oversight and concomitant disrespect for the Constitutional Court order to re-tender properly. As Justice Johan Froneman said in ordering Dlamini to explain why she shouldn’t personally pay the (R5 million) costs of the court case, the executive has “deeply shamed” itself by relying on a private corporate entity with “no discernable commitment to transformative empowerment,” to fulfill its constitutional and statutory obligations. The court will supervise the new welfare payout agreement. This scenario, with deafening echoes at the SABC, Eskom and SAA, could be avoided if those running State-Owned Entities and ministries were not appointed for political and/or other shady reasons, instead of simple competence. The court has exposed the rot at the core of our government – and the lack of accountability begins at the very top. – Chris Bateman
by Kevin Crowley
(Bloomberg) – South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma will chair an inter-ministerial committee set up to ensure social grants are paid to recipients on time after the government was criticised for leading the system close to failure.
The committee will consist of ministers including Pravin Gordhan, minister of finance, and Bathabile Dlamini, minister for social development, who has been criticised for her handling of the payment process, the government said Saturday in a statement. It will ensure the government implements a court order to improve transparency and reform the system.
The system of payments of more than R150 billion ($12 billion) a year was on the brink of collapse because Dlamini and the South African Social Security Agency failed to find a new company to administer the program after the court declared the original contract with Net1 UEPS Technologies Inc. invalid more than two years ago. South Africa’s Constitutional Court on Friday ordered the contract’s extension to avoid a “potential catastrophe” and slammed the government’s handling of the matter.
“Government deeply regrets the undue anxiety that resulted from the uncertainty over grant distribution,” it said in the statement. “We apologize to South Africans unreservedly.”
While Dlamini accepted a degree of responsibility for the problems, she said she was not entirely to blame, the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times reported, citing an interview with the minister. Media, opposition parties and SASSA executives were also responsible for fanning the flames of the crisis, she said, according to the report.