Social Development Director General Zane Dangor has described the jostling over a new contract for the distribution of social grants as “painful” after tendering his resignation this week.

Dangor confirmed today that he has resigned citing a breakdown of relations with minister Bathabile Dlamini over the handling of the Sassa crisis.

“We’ve not always been on the same page since we started talking about what needed to be done when this contract came to an end and the urgency of the grant payments on the first of April,” he said.

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Dangor who had previously been special advisor to the minister took up the position of Director General in November last year. He said his disgruntlement was linked to the department’s decision to renew a contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) despite not having the go-ahead from the Constitutional Court.

“My belief is that we needed to adhere to the advise we were given that if we were going to go the route of renewing the contract with CPS we needed to ensure that we filed with the Constitutional Court in advance”.

In 2014 the Constitutional Court declared Sassa’s contract with CPS to be unlawful because the tender was invalid.
However, yesterday the social development department announced that a new agreement had been reached with CPS which would allow it continue distributing grants once the current contract ended at the end of March. National treasury has said it will not approve any SASSA contract with CPS unless the Constitutional court rules it to be lawful.

Sassa has been summoned to appear before the court on March 15 for an agreement to be reached on grant payments.

Dangor’s resignation has drawn heavy criticism from Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), which expressed anger over the resignation of what it says was an “honest and hardworking civil servant”. The committee has placed the blame squarely on minister Bathabile Dlamini and called on het to take accountability.

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“The minister must take full responsibility for this. The department is clearly falling apart,” the committee said in a statement.  Dlamini has also faced harsh criticism from Cosatu this week, which called for her to step down from her position or be dismissed.

Opposition parties such as the Democratic Alliance and Cope have called on Dangor to give a detailed account of what is happening within the department of social development and explain how it bungled a process necessary for the livelihoods of 17-million South Africans.