It felt like a parallel reality. The Presidency said this week that Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini was keeping President Jacob Zuma abreast of developments around the social grants 17-million South Africans receive each month. "The president is keen that the social grant beneficiaries should not be inconvenienced," a spokesman was reported as saying. Inconvenienced? That’s an almost criminal understatement of the problem. Without the R1,600 monthly state pension and the R350 in child support, millions of poor South Africans will face debilitating hunger — not mere inconvenience. Yet that is the potential catastrophe the president and his social development minister, who is also the president of the ANC Women’s League, have allowed to befall SA. The contract of Net1 subsidiary Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to distribute the social grants is due to expire in just four weeks, on March 31, and at this stage, there is no alternative in place to get the grants to the benefi...

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