Sassa CEO, minister no-shows at crucial Scopa social grants meeting

Cape Town – Both Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza were absent from Tuesday’s crucial Scopa meeting to discuss the looming social grants crisis.

Magwaza had been booked off for seven days due to hypertension, department Deputy Director-General Zane Dangor told MPs on the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa).

He said Magwaza had applied for leave on Friday evening. An acting CEO would take his place.

The Star reported on Tuesday that Magwaza had been suspended.

MPs criticised Dangor and SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) chief financial officer Tsakeriwa Chauke for Magwaza's absence.

DA MP Timothy Brauteseth cited The Star report and said Dangor was "being economical with the truth".

IFP MP Mkuleko Hlengwa said the game of "musical chairs" was concerning, given that it was on the eve of a crisis. He said the South African public was being taken for a ride.

'Not a holiday resort'

ANC MP Mnyamezeli Booi said they were used to Sassa officials dodging Parliament, and asked if Dangor would resign on Magwaza's behalf.

He said Magwaza had declared publicly in November last year that he would take responsibility for the Sassa social grants crisis.

Sassa and the department were undermining Parliament and not doing their work.

"This is not a holiday resort, we repeat it. We are here to do work," he said.

Dlamini was expected to host a press briefing as chairperson of the social protection, community and human development cluster in Parliament at 11:00 on Tuesday.

Committee chairperson Themba Godi said it was unfortunate that Dlamini had decided not to attend, given the serious nature of the meeting.

He said the deadline for the department to find a new service provider to issue grants to 17 million people was April 1, but it was far from being an April Fool's joke.