Pensioners wait in a queue at a Sassa pay point in Mpumalanga. Picture: SOWETAN
Pensioners wait in a queue at a Sassa pay point in Mpumalanga. Picture: SOWETAN

The Constitutional Court has once again asked former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini to motivate why she should not be held personally liable for the recent social grants debacle which saw the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) again asking for an extension of an illegal contract.

The top court on Friday granted a further six-month extension of Sassa’s contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for the administration of cash payments of social grants to 2.5-million beneficiaries.

Part of the order was an instruction for Dlamini and acting Sassa CEO Pearl Bhengu to file affidavits with the court by April 16 motivating why they should not be joined to proceedings in their personal capacity and pay the costs themselves.

This comes as Dlamini is already facing an inquiry on why she should not be held personally liable for the social grants fiasco, which resulted in the court having to extend the Sassa contract with CPS.

Dlamini was removed as social development minister in February and replaced by Susan Shabangu. Dlamini and the controversial workstreams that she appointed have been accused of frustrating the process of finding a way for Sassa to take over the payment of grants by the end of March 2017.

This is the second time in a year that the court was forced at the last minute to extend the contract because Sassa was unable to put together a plan that would see it take over the payment of the grants.

The recent Constitutional Court application was lodged in February, just over a month before the deadline for Sassa to end its relationship with CPS.

The South African Post Office will take over the payment of social grants once the CPS contract ends but has said it needs time to phase in services to take over the payments. 

The court on Friday ordered that 30 days after the end of the contract between CPS and Sassa, CPS had to file an audited statement of expenses incurred, income received and net profit earned under the contract.

Sassa immediately thereafter must obtain an independent audited verification, which had to be approved by the Treasury and a report given to the court within 60 days of the completion of the CPS contract.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za