Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: THE TIMES
Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: THE TIMES

The wait begins for an inquiry into the roles and responsibilities of Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini after parties delegated to appoint an individual to head the investigation file their recommendations to the Constitutional Court on Monday.

The Black Sash Trust approached the court in March after the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) acknowledged it would not be able to pay millions of grants from April 1‚ despite promising the court in November 2015 it would do so.

The organisation wanted the court to resume its supervisory jurisdiction over the payment of social grants.

The Treasury‚ Sassa‚ Freedom Under Law and Black Sash all want retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke to lead the investigation but Dlamini is not happy with that prospect.

"All the parties involved recommended that the inquiry be a public one. Allow witnesses to be called and questioned. At the moment we are waiting for the court to tell us when the inquiry will begin. We are at the mercy of the court‚" said Evashnee Naidu‚ KwaZulu-Natal regional manager of Black Sash.

Dlamini has agreed to a public inquiry into whether she should personally pay the legal costs of the Sassa grant payment debacle.

At some point she blamed Sassa officials for the grants crisis‚ but the agency’s CEO, Thokozani Magwaza, and former director-general Zane Dangor disputed her version of events.

"In the main‚ the minister sought to place the blame on Sassa officials and the department‚ while the thrust of the CEO and the director-general’s affidavits is that the minister created parallel decision making and communication processes that bypassed Sassa and department officials. The minister said little of this in her own affidavit.

"As a result‚ the Constitutional Court unanimously ordered an inquiry into the role Dlamini played in the establishment of these so-called work streams‚" said Constitutional Court Justice Johan Froneman.

This meltdown started after the court had in 2014 declared that the 2012 contract between Sassa and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for the payment of grants was invalid.

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