Social Development minister Bathabile Dlamini refused to answer questions on accountability as she appeared today before the parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa).
Dlamini, who had previously failed to appear before the committee days earlier, offered little clarity in an already obfuscated situation. Instead, she cited a variety of obstacles which to her view had not been covered by the media.
“Our experience has not been told”, said Dlamini when discussing why she had failed to select a grant distributor so close to the pay-out deadline of 1 April.
“Different work-streams took months before reporting back that they were essentially sitting on a time-bomb”, the minister explained.
She added that due to “time pressures, certain transformation issues…were also overlooked”.
However, it emerged that Dlamini and her team had been legally aware since May 2016 that certain steps would need to be taken to ensure a lawfully appointed grant distributor with ample time before the pay-out deadline.
Sympathy for her waned further when the minister wished to end the sitting prematurely without answering any questions from the floor.
EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi expressed frustration at this saying, “The minister needs to be told to her face, she is undermining parliament. This is not a church, you cannot just preach and we say ‘amen’ and then you go”.
Dlamini then decided to entertain some questions for an extra hour, but remained adamant that she would not be pushed around and “would not answer question she didn’t need to”.
Dlamini has received stern criticism from civic society for her handling of the Sassa debacle in the last few weeks, while the presidency has been cautious to rush into judgement.
She has assured beneficiaries that payment will be made on 1 April.