Concourt to Sassa: Tell us why you missed our deadline

On Tuesday morning, the Constitutional Court issued a directive to Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and the South African Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) former and current chief executives to explain why they missed a deadline to respond to questions asked by the court.

Dlamini, former Sassa acting chief executive Thamo Mzobe and current acting chief executive Wiseman Magasela will have to submit affidavits by 3pm today to the Concourt on “why the directives issued by the chief justice… were not complied with”.

Last Wednesday, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng issued directives to Sassa and Dlamini, compelling them to answer detailed questions about who is responsible for making decisions on grant payments at Sassa and when the agency knew it would be unable to pay grants itself.

The chief justice said the answers to those questions should be submitted before 4pm on Monday, March 13.
Instead, Sassa and Dlamini reportedly sent an electronic response after 10pm on Monday night.

In the directive issued on Tuesday morning, which is signed by the registrar of the Concourt, the chief justice has given Sassa and Dlamini just hours to state their case as to why they missed the deadline.

The directive comes at a time when Sassa and Dlamini have failed to keep the Concourt adequately informed about their negotiations with Cash Paymaster Service (CPS) and their plans to deliver grants on April 1.

In a response to the court’s questions, Magasela admitted that Sassa should have informed the Concourt sooner that it would not be able to pay grants. “I accept that the court ought to have been informed at a much earlier stage …,” he said.

The agency revealed that it knew as far back as April 2016 that it would be unable to make the grant payments, as it had initially planned to do after the Concourt found in 2014 that its contract with CPS was unlawful.

Sassa has also made it clear that it does not believe that the Concourt’s approval is necessary for it to contract with CPS. In 2015, the Concourt discharged Sassa from its supervisory jurisdiction, but civic organisation the Black Sash is now asking for the court to resume its supervisory function over Sassa.

But Sassa has dodged the request by saying it would prefer the public protector or the auditor general to monitor the deal

Dlamini and Sassa representatives are due to appear in the Concourt tomorrow in the application brought by the Black Sash.

But, before then, it remains to be seen whether the agency and Dlamini will submit their affidavits on time today, or miss yet another deadline issued by the Concourt.

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