South Africa

SassaGate: ‘I don’t understand why the blame is shifted onto me’ – Dlamini blames former Sassa CEO in payment scandal

By News24 25 January 2018

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has put some of the blame on former South African Social Security Agency CEO Thokozani Magwaza for the social security agency grant scandal that has landed her in the hot seat and having to explain why she should not be held personally liable for the matter. By NEWS24.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has suggested that former Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza lied in his submissions that she was in charge of the controversial workstreams set up to the tune of R47-million and which National Treasury found to be irregular and had undermined the work of Sassa.

Dlamini made the suggestion as she faced her third day of gruelling cross-examination on Wednesday.

She was testifying at the Office of the Chief Justice in Midrand at an inquiry into her role and liability in the 2017 social grants crisis.

The Constitutional Court had appointed retired Judge Bernard Ngoepe to investigate whether Dlamini should be held personally accountable for costs incurred in the Sassa payment scandal.

Dlamini, during cross-examination by Magwaza’s lawyer, Advocate Richard Solomon, suggested that Magwaza lied in his submissions that she was in charge of workstreams that have come under scrutiny in the inquiry.

There are documents that are signed by Magwaza and I don’t understand why all the blame is shifted to me regarding everything that happened,” she said.

The inquiry is investigating whether Dlamini sought the appointment of individuals to the three workstreams which would directly report to her.

The Constitutional Court found that the appointment of leaders of the workstreams who had acted as advisers for Dlamini was irregular and illegal.

The inquiry will also investigate the appointment terms of the individuals, who they reported to and the workstreams reports.

Magwaza, who is a witness in the inquiry, in his submission accused Dlamini of deceiving the Constitutional Court.

He alleges that Dlamini appointed leaders of the workstreams and that the teams reported to her.

Dlamini, however, has denied this in her defiant testimony during cross-examination, saying that Magwaza did not only “fail to engage comprehensively” but “it was only after Magwaza had been appointed that problems started happening with work unable to flow”.

She also denied Magwaza’s claims that he had been left in the dark on the reports of the workstreams.

It’s not true that there was anyone blank with what was happening. How would I have ever said that the CEO must not get involved with workstreams?” she added.

Ngoepe cautioned Dlamini, once again, against dodging questions.

During cross-examination, Dlamini showed frustration with the cross-examiners. In one instance, she refused to answer a question.

On Tuesday, Ngoepe reprimanded Dlamini on several occasions when she seemingly attempted to dodge questions.

Ngoepe, in one such instance, insisted that Dlamini answer a question. However, a defiant Dlamini stuck to her guns and refused to respond.

Cross-examination will continue on Thursday. DM

Photo: Minister Bathabile Dlamini (GCIS via Flickr).

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