/ 24 July 2008

Minister launches probe into social security agency

Alleged inappropriate management practices at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will be investigated by Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya, said the ministry on Thursday.

”They include allegations of discrimination and inappropriate treatment of women staff, irregular appointment of staff, and abuse of power by senior management.”

Skweyiya said he has been listening to a number of whistle-blowers from the agency over the past two weeks, and that allegations of mismanagement are viewed in a very serious

”In view of Sassa’s strategic significance in the fight against poverty, it is urgent and appropriate to build a better working environment.”

Skweyiya said the Public Services Commission has been asked to help with the investigation and recommend strategies and remedial actions to resolve the problems. The commission will lead the inquiry related to human relations and resource issues.

The minister has also been liasing with the special investigations unit (SIU), with regards to allegations of fraudulent practices. He has been working with the SIU for the past few years to combat fraud in the social grants system.

”The SIU is already embedded within Sassa’s operations and well placed to deal with any criminal practices,” he said.

Police and all law-enforcement agencies have also been alerted.

”The end result should be a working environment that is free of corruption and absenteeism,” said Skweyiya.

He said women in the agency should be able to work productively without fear of harassment and knowing they will not be excluded from promotions and other benefits.

”We will act very harshly and take stern disciplinary action against any individual found to be involved in any of the shenanigans that are reported. Nobody will be victimised,” said Skweyiya. — Sapa