South Africa extends grants payments contract to avert social aid crisis

Bathabile Dlamini

But during parliamentary questioning session on Thursday, Zuma was categorical that he was not going to sack Mrs. Dlamini and asserted that there was "no crisis" in her ministry. He added that social security was one of the socio-economic rights that were mentioned specifically in the Constitution of the Republic.

Zuma's remarks fly in the face of remarks made by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng this week, where he described the current grants crisis in the country a result of "absolute incompetence" on the part of Dlamini and the department of social development.

The agreement which was due to expire on 31 March would have left millions without vital social security payments from next month.

A contract between the SASSA and CPS for the grant distribution had been declared illegal by the ConCourt years ago. "He has apologised unreservedly to all South Africans".

Zuma is widely expected to reshuffle his Cabinet in the near future.

Government has assured that grants will be paid on 1 April, but time is running out to find a solution to the crisis.

"I have directed the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Comprehensive Social Security to ensure that the order of the court is implemented efficiently and diligently‚ in its entirety". "And, in the deepest and most shaming of ironies, it now seeks to rely on a private corporate entity, with no discernible commitment to transformative empowerment in its own management structures, to get it out of this predicament".

On Wednesday, the President of the Constitutional Court, Mogoeng Mogoeng, severely curtailed the minister. It has prompted scathing criticism of the government, including from Nobel Peace Prize victor Desmond Tutu. "The ruling by the Constitutional Court indicates our progressive democracy and a functional system of checks and balances‚ which benefits our citizens", Zuma stated.

"The fact that it has come to this underlines the moral bankruptcy of the Zuma regime", Tutu said in an opinion piece published on Business Live.

"As a long-standing champion of the poor, I do not understand how the President can continue to condone the behaviour of (Ms.) Dlamini, who has shown by her inaction that she has no regard for the poor".

In a separate ruling on Friday, another South African court invalidated the Zuma government's appointment of a senior police commander, Berning Ntlemeza, who heads an elite investigative unit known as the Hawks.

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