JZ clings to Dlamini: Wait until April 1, Zuma tells MPs about any moves to fire minister

17 March 2017 - 08:33 By BABALO NDENZE and BIANCA CAPAZORIO
TICK TOCK: President Jacob Zuma replies to oral questions from opposition MPs in the National Assembly yesterday.
TICK TOCK: President Jacob Zuma replies to oral questions from opposition MPs in the National Assembly yesterday.
Image: GCIS

President Jacob Zuma closed ranks around his beleaguered Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini yesterday, insisting there was "no crisis" in her department.

The move came as the Constitutional Court is expected to deliver its ruling in the social grants case today.

Zuma dismissed calls for Dlamini to be fired, saying only in a "funny democracy" would a minister be punished for something that had not yet happened.

He downplayed the outrage around the social grants debacle, telling parliament that he was not prepared to evaluate "isphithiphiti" (commotion).

  • Who is Sassa? Everything you need to know about the agency at the centre of the social grants scandalThe South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) had one job to do and it has failed miserably at it.

The president said the anger around social grants was premature and he could only evaluate Dlamini's performance after April1, the date on which social grants are meant to be paid next.

Zuma was responding to questions from opposition MPs on the SA Social Security Agency social grants fiasco in the National Assembly yesterday.

MPs wanted to know if the president intended taking any action against Dlamini.

"It's a funny democracy to punish a person before they commit a mistake. April 1 has not come.

"Only after the first you can ask why I have not taken action," Zuma responded.

  • Zuma should recall Bathabile Dlamini and Pravin Gordhan‚ says KZN student leaderPresident Jacob Zuma should recall‚ with immediate effect‚ both Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. 

Zuma said taking action against Dlamini would be "almost like the law of the jungle". However, he said his government "deeply regrets" the situation.

"We will ensure that there is never again any apprehension with regards to the payments of social grants," he said.

Zuma also distanced himself from his lawyer Michael Hulley's direct involvement in the Sassa contract with CPS following an exposè by the Sunday Times.

EFF MPs boycotted the Q&A session.

  • Grants fiasco: Judgment to be handed down on FridayJudgment will be handed down in the social grants matter on Friday at 10 am.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa caused a commotion when he accused Zuma of lying after the president had said he was not aware that accounts of grant beneficiaries had "illegal deductions".

"Why are you denying that money is being deducted? You are not being truthful, you're not telling the truth," said Holomisa.

  • Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said the cabinet was doing everything in its power to avoid a crisis.

Reporting back on the cabinet meeting yesterday, Radebe said the interministerial task team would ensure that the Constitutional Court's ruling was implemented.

  • WATCH LIVE: Zuma to be grilled in ParliamentPresident Jacob Zuma is expected to be grilled in Parliament on the social grants debacle and his plans for former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe.

He also said the task team would "review the conduct of Sassa, especially in relation to its administrative capacity and management".