POLITICS

Bathabile Dlamini's Best Quotes From Her Stand-Off With Scopa

The Minister of Social Development had a torrid three hours in front of Parliament's standing committee on public accounts. Here are the highlights.

07/03/2017 13:45 SAST | Updated 07/03/2017 15:31 SAST

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini had an extremely uncomfortable meeting with MPs on Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday, defending her wickets for three hours.

Some of her best lines:

On the Constitutional Court's judgment in 2014 invalidating the contract between the Department of Social Development and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS): "We knew it will be wrong to continue with an invalid contract."

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About Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan: "The minister of finance raised concerns about the options raised by officials (to continue with the disbursement of social grants) ... taken aback by the report by the officials, saying that there is one option (CPS)."

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And again: "The minister of finance wrote us a letter objecting ... He said he is unhappy with the one option (the extension of the CPS contract), unhappy about the South African Post Office (the department refused to consider the post office as a service provider)."

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About Gordhan's department: "They were supposed to give us two officials to participate in the negotiations (with CPS) ... but they did not come."

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During her opening statement: "People are saying we won't pay on 1 April, but they can't say. We must, chairperson, now apologise for the commotion and misunderstandings."

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About the post office: "One option that is now being pushed is for us to use the post office ... but they aren't everywhere, they are based in apartheid towns."

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"The Department of Social Development is about human lives ... it (the department) is about improving what we do every day."

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About banks and their suitability to provide payment grant payment services: "Our experience with banks is that when they start working with people then it is merely a banker-client relationship, bank and person. In fact, Standard Bank owes us R500 million, in dormant accounts ... if you consider interest it is around R1,1 billion which they owe us. We can't just jump and go there."

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On whether or not the department took "radical economic transformation" into account when negotiating with CPS: "We are people centred ... we must take it (the payment of grants) to the people. The economy must revolve around the people (receiving the grants) and right now it is the big retailers that get the money ... I don't have a problem. But we must give people an opportunity to develop."

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And: "We must contribute to radical economic transformation, most money must go to where people live, but now it is not happening."

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Criticism of government was unwarranted: "What is going on now is that the pensions issue is being used to campaign, the issue is used to remove the credibility of government in the eyes of our people."

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She'll take responsibility, but: "We underestimated the work involved to ensure payment (of grants), it is a lot of work, you need to have infrastructure, even banks don't have it and this is not a thumbsuck."

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After her remarks, she wanted to duck: "Chairperson, Cabinet starts at 09.30, I want to be excused."

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When MPs interjected: "Chairperson, I don't want to be pushed, I don't want to be pushed ... I am being pushed."

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In answering a question by Tim Brauteseth, a Democratic Alliance MP: "National crisis? We have been saying: we will be paying on 1 April ... but you are saying ... it depends on where you sit, how you see it."

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When asked about the expected cost of the contract: "No, no ... don't throw words at me, I am not an expert on everything."

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After the Economic Freedom Fighters' Mbuyeseni Ndlozi castigated her for an "avalanche of failures" and "incompetence": "If you want to define it as an 'avalanche' or that we are 'incompetent', we can't stop it."

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And then: "These things were moving up and down ... the workstreams ... and all these other things."

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Treasury will only authorise the expenditure once the Constitutional Court has condoned the extension of the CPS contract, but: "The technical team (who are negotiating with CPS) will make a presentation to the president."

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Just to remind everyone where she gets her strength from: "I am appointed by the president ... when you join an organisation, you don't join that organisation to become a minister."

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About CPS: "We have not completed negotiations, we don't want to tell lies here, we don't want to say things that are untrue simply to impress you ... we have not signed an agreement with CPS."

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Again, she went after the post office: "The Sapo (post office) have had ample time to get their house in order ... we can't help that, we cannot be blamed."

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About Gordhan's tetchiness: "It will be unauthorised expenditure because people don't understand our work ... must we now get all beneficiaries to come and show their cards so we know their accounts? You can't call us inefficient or lame ducks."

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Almost inaudible, but when Themba Godi, Scopa chairperson and an MP for the African People's Convention, closed proceedings, the microphone picked her up saying: "Done ..."