Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini has defended her handling of the social grants programme.
Dlamini made a long-awaited appearance before parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday.
“Last week‚ I did not come here because I had other responsibilities‚” she said.
“I think‚ the issue of grants‚ I agree is very important and I don’t want South Africa to think I am arrogant. Because people have been counting what meetings I did not attend‚ but never asked why I did not attend‚” she continued.
Scopa chairperson Themba Godi has been highly critical of Dlamini’s office.
“While we are of course concerned whether or not grant recipients will be paid‚ the fundamental thrust of our concern is how we got to where we are today‚” Godi said on Tuesday.
“The CPS contract from the beginning had a time period that would lapse. How did we get into this emergency?” he asked.
Dlamini was due to appear before the committee last week‚ but did not show up‚ angering members of the committee‚ who had wanted to grill her on the status of the social grants programme.
Dlamini has faced a barrage of criticism in recent weeks‚ as the fate of 17 million grant recipients remains unclear.
The minister has assured beneficiaries that their grants will be paid from April 1‚ after months of uncertainty around the social grant distribution agency. The contract of the current agent‚ Cash Paymaster Services (CPS)‚ expires at the end of this month. But Dlamini’s department has struggled to explain who will take over‚ given that CPS’s previous contract was declared irregular by the Constitutional Court.