The Democratic Alliance will submit written questions to Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, after she claimed this week her department needs a hefty R6bn to complete the social grants takeover.
Dlamini told Parliament’s social development committee on Wednesday that Sassa needs the huge sum and at least five years to control the process fully, in contrast to Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza’s two-to-three-year prediction.
“How did the Minister arrive at this R6bn figure?” DA MP Bridget Masango said on Thursday, labelling the sum “staggering”.
“Did this price tag increase because Sassa was not ready to distribute social grants at the 31 March 2017 deadline?”
The current contract with outgoing service provider Cash Paymaster Services, which ends in March 2018, is currently worth a third of that, around R2bn a year.
Masango said she will also ask what measures the department will take to ensure that its plan is in line with the Public Finance Management Act, given the party’s belief Dlamini “manufactured” the crisis.
Dlamini told MPs that Sassa does not have the expertise to manage the grants scheme on its own currently, and that South Africans should look at the sum as a long-term investment.
Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza, though, disagreed with Dlamini on the timespan and said it could be achieved in two to three years, and various factors, including negotiations with the post office and the banks, could lower the price.
Two luxury cars
While Sassa needs more money, Dlamini has also been in the news this week for spending more than R2m in the last financial year on two new ministerial cars.
In a written Parliamentary reply on Wednesday, Dlamini revealed she and deputy minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu bought a luxury BMW worth R1.3m and a Jeep Grand Cherokee worth R1.1m respectively.
The minister claimed the purchases were warranted, despite new government austerity measures, as her previous ministerial cars were bought in 2009.
“It is glaringly obvious that Dlamini loves feathering her nest with luxury cars and expensive hotel stays, whilst millions of our people live in absolute poverty,” Masango said.
Dlamini should have no problems answering their Parliamentary questions if she has nothing to hide, she added.