Thokozani Magwaza, chief executive officer of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), has applied to the Constitutional Court for permission to file an affidavit countering claims made by Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini last week.
Dlamini was ordered by the court on March 17 to show cause by March 31 why she should not be joined in her personal capacity in the action brought by the Black Sash and others against her department and Sassa, and why she should not pay the legal costs from her own pocket.
Dlamini filed a last-minute affidavit to the court last Friday in which she expressed her “personal contrition and regret” for the anxiety caused to social grant recipients following Sassa’s inability to take over the social grant payment system as planned on March 31.
But she mostly blamed Sassa officials for the problem, insisting that she had not wilfully intended to put the payment system at risk, or to disregard any court order.
She said that although Sassa officials had known by April 2016 that they would not be able to take over the social grants payment system, she had not been informed until “after October 2016”.
She said Sassa officials had not provided her with legal advice that they had received from four advocates, “and I was therefore not aware of the extent of the difficulties that Sassa was in, in the face of the looming 31 March 2017 deadline”.
But Magwaza says he would like to dispute her version of events.
In a letter to the court on Monday, Magwaza said: “I perused the affidavit filed by the Minister of the Department of Social Development, and noted that… it contains factors that are inaccurate. With leave of the Honourable Court, I am ready to file an affidavit to reflect the correct version of events.”
Magwaza said he had decided to write directly to the court rather than go through Sassa’s attorneys.
He said he wanted to inform the court of “the inaccuracy” of the contents of the minister’s affidavit, “in order to dispel the perceptions that the public may harbour against me”. – GroundUp