Former Sassa CEO Pearl Bengu. Picture: GCIS
Former Sassa CEO Pearl Bengu. Picture: GCIS

The departure of former South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) acting CEO Pearl Bhengu did not "absolve her from accountability nor does it entitle her to a severance package", according to the DA.

The DA spokesperson on social development Bridget Masango was reacting to confirmation by Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu that Bhengu has been replaced by the agency’s chief information officer Abraham Mahlangu.

The minister told members of Parliament’s social development committee on Wednesday that Bhengu’s request to return to her previous position as Sassa’s regional manager for KwaZulu-Natal had been accepted.

Shabangu said it was important that someone within Sassa take over the running of the agency. However, Masango welcomed Bhengu’s departure, saying: "Bhengu was at the helm of Sassa when the agency was on the verge of yet another social grants crisis and she was believed to have been very close to former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini, who was set on ensuring the continuation of the illegal Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) contract.

"The reality is that Bhengu has to be held accountable for her hand in the many crises that Sassa continues to suffer and her role in the social grants mess must be investigated."

According to Masango: "Past experiences have taught us that ineffective CEOs often get rewarded for poor performance and enabling corruption to fester in our parastatals."

There was a problem at last week’s meeting of the social development committee, which refused to adopt the budget for the Department of Social Development, arguing there was no approved organogram for the department. Departmental organograms have to be approved by the Department of Public Service and Administration.

However, Shabangu said the department’s budget had been endorsed on the basis of the provisional organogram of 2015. The budget allocation was made in terms of the 2015 structure. She explained that in terms of the succession regime from one minister to another, plans adopted by one minister were taken over by the successor.