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It’s possible the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) represents a microcosm of early 21st-century SA. This may seem a rather frightening thought at first but on reflection it is encouraging.

There may just be enough committed people in the agency for "good to prevail" — as they say in Hollywood. Good in this instance is defined as nothing more than the efficient ejection of Net1, and a putative BEE clone of Net1, from the distribution of grants. It may not appear an ambitious definition but in the context of an environment dominated by Bathabile Dlamini, it is a near-Herculean challenge. As we get closer to the December ANC leadership contest, the social development minister’s determination to carve out a potentially lucrative role for her workstream/advisers becomes ever more fearsome. Her latest victim is former Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza. I met Magwaza at a number of parliamentary briefings. At a few of them Zodwa Mvulane, the "payment transition project manager" at Sassa and a close ally of the minister, presented the Dlamini-backed transition plan to MPs. Over the critical two or three months ahead of the March 2017 deadline, the only changes seemed to be the addi...

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