The Constitutional Court hauled Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini over the coals on Wednesday over the Sassa social grant debacle, with Chief Justice Mogoeng outright questioning her competency, Business Day reported.
"How do you get to the level where your clients make themselves look like they are incompetent?" the Chief Justice reportedly asked.
Mogoeng: Lawyer tells you in May right thing to do is come to court. Why was that not done. Breitenbach: I don't know. #SASSA— Pierre de Vos (@pierredevos) March 15, 2017
According to Business Day, Sassa said it knew that it would not be able to take over the payment of social grants from the current service provider, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) in April 2016. Dlamini reportedly said she was only informed of this in November 2016.
The paper quoted Mogoeng as saying:
"For you not to follow up now, to spend sleepless nights ensuring that that does not repeat itself is something that is difficult for any of us to understand... Is the minister forbidden from saying to Sassa: 'You embarrassed me enough. I want a report on a bi-weekly basis?"
Andrew Breitenbach SC, representing Dlamini reportedly said Sassa had been overambitious in thinking it could take over the payment of grants.
Opposition parties and activists have called the debacle the biggest crisis faced by the ANC since the dawn of democracy.
The ANC must know that failure to pay the #SASSA grants is SA's greatest political & social stability threat since 1994. It's that simple.— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) March 15, 2017
Meanwhile, CPS was unable to tell the court how much a new contract with Sassa would cost the state.
Cockrell demonstrating that CPS really, really, don't want court to have say on contract price. Why Minister refused to go to Court? #SASSA— Pierre de Vos (@pierredevos) March 15, 2017