Dlamini conditionally agrees to Sassa public inquiry

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Johannesburg, 03 April 2017 - The South African Social Security Agency started making grant payments on Friday.? Beneficiaries began queuing to collect their social welfare grants on Monday morning.

Johannesburg, 03 April 2017 - The South African Social Security Agency started making grant payments on Friday.? Beneficiaries began queuing to collect their social welfare grants on Monday morning.

JOHANNESBURG – Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has on a condition, agreed to a public inquiry into whether she should personally pay the legal costs of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants debacle.

Dlamini’s condition is that the inquiry not be led by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

READ: Dlamini misses court deadline on grants questions

The Constitutional Court will decide which retired judge will lead the Dlamini inquiry, which will be the first of its kind in democratic South Africa.

“Friends of the court” (Treasury, Sassa, Freedom Under Law and Black Sash) all want retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to lead the investigation but Dlamini isn’t happy with that prospect.

She says she’ll accept retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, Justice Yvonne Mokgoro or former Judge President Bernard Ngoepe for the position. At this point, it remains unclear why she's taken this stance.

READ: Dlamini proposes new Sassa deal

The Constitutional Court was scathing in its ruling on the Sassa grants crisis, which it found had jeopardised the important role grants play in assisting South Africa’s most vulnerable. It wanted answers about whether Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini should be held personally liable for the mess.

Dlamini’s version of events differed sharply from that of Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza and former Social Development Director-General Zane Dangor.

“In the main, the minister sought to place the blame on Sassa officials and the department, while the thrust of the Chief Executive Officer and the Director-General’s affidavits is that Minister created parallel decision making and communication processes that bypassed Sassa and department officials. The minister said little of this in her own affidavit.”

READ: Dangor weighs in on Dlamini's role in Sassa crisis 

“As a result, the Constitutional Court unanimously ordered an inquiry into the role Dlamini played in the establishment of these so-called work streams,” said Constitutional Court Judge Johan Froneman.

Minister Dlamini will have to explain herself in a public inquiry, where the retired judge leading the probe into her conduct, will have the power to call any witness, relevant to the investigation.

The minister wants the power to start that inquiry with her own witnesses, and lead their evidence with her own legal team.