South African Welfare Minister Commits to Working With Post OfficeBy
Minister Dlamini names new acting CEO for welfare agency
Ruling party decides government must work with Post Office
The South African cabinet minister who oversees more than $11 billion in annual welfare payments said she is committed to working with the state-owned post office, easing concern that the planned partnership would be scrapped after she ousted the chief executive officer of the social security agency.
Bathabile Dlamini, the minister of social development, told staff on Tuesday that her party, the ruling African National Congress, had instructed her to work with the South African Post Office, and she will comply, according to an audio recording of the meeting heard by Bloomberg.
“The African National Congress has taken a decision that the post office must have a role,” she said. “I, as the political appointee and the deployee of the African National Congress, have always ensured that the post office is not out of the picture. This is the policy of my organization and there is no way that I am going to renege on that position.”
A potential partnership with the post office, which would replace Net1 UEPS Technologies Inc. as the distributor of welfare to about 17 million people was thrown into doubt when Dlamini said Thokozani Magwaza agreed to leave his post earlier this week as CEO of the South African Social Security Agency.
Work done by Magwaza that is in line with “the mandate of the organization that has deployed me here, it is going to be implemented,” Dlamini said.
Magwaza and Dlamini contradicted each other in affidavits to the Constitutional Court earlier this year in a case where the court allowed a contract with Net1, which it had ruled invalid in 2014, to be extended for a year. Sassa had failed to comply with the 2014 order to find a new distributor and the court has said Net1 must be replaced when the contract expires in 2018. Magwaza told a parliamentary committee that he had received death threats.
Magwaza said in a July 11 interview that he had scrapped advisory groups set up by the minister to plan for how welfare would be distributed in future. Those groups reported directly to the minister, effectively creating parallel structures to the agency’s management. He said he had informed the minister but hadn’t received a response. He also said Sassa would work with the Post Office to help distribute welfare grants.
“We got a letter from Sassa on Friday to work collaboratively to pay grants,” Post Office CEO Mark Barnes said by phone. “The process now is to get to it.”
Calls to Sassa weren’t answered, while the social development ministry asked for emailed questions.