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After disagreements and death threats, Magwaza finally leaves Dlamini, Sassa

2017-07-17 17:00

The chief executive of the South Africa Social Security Agency, Thokozani Magwaza, has finally parted ways with the embattled agency and minister Bathabile Dlamini.

In a brief statement issued on Monday afternoon, the department said Magwaza’s services were terminated “after a consultative process led by the head of legal services, Advocate Nkosinathi Dladla, in terms of the provisions of his contract of employment”.

Magwaza was due to testify against Dlamini in a public inquiry into her role in the social grants payment scandal.

When a five-year contract awarded to Cash Paymaster Services to disburse welfare grants to more than 17 million South Africans expired on March 31, citizens remained in the dark for months about how the grants would be distributed from April, and the costs involved in doing so.

In March, Magwaza broke his silence on the grants crisis.

Read: Sassa boss speaks

He listed a number of occasions – dating as far back as early February – when his office was ready to petition the highest court in the land for guidance, only to be abruptly halted by last-minute instructions from Dlamini.

He spoke out just days before the deadline for Sassa to explain to the Constitutional Court why it had handled the social grants in the manner it did and why it had failed to communicate with the court.

Magwaza told City Press that:

- Dlamini got in the way of papers being filed in the Constitutional Court three times;

- The research report, submitted in October, which detailed Sassa’s inability to take over grant payments from CPS in April, was initially withheld from him when he took office in November;

- Dlamini’s aides told Sassa staff to take instructions from her attorney;

- Dlamini torpedoed plans to involve the South African Post Office in the distribution of grants; and

- He was being victimised for recommending a 12-month temporary contract be secured with CPS, instead of the 24 to 36 months preferred by others.

It’s also understood that he’s being pressured to accept an exit package and information has emerged that his life may be under threat.

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Monday condemned death threats allegedly made against Magwaza.

“It is shocking that Dlamini has not said a word or stood in solidarity with Magwaza, thus making him feel he is on his own,” Scopa chairperson Themba Godi said.

He said Magwaza had told him about the death threats he had received, for his work in ending Sassa’s contract with Cash Paymaster Services.

Magwaza was leading negotiations with the Post Office for it to help distribute grants.

He recently cancelled the contracts of the so-called “work streams” which Dlamini put in place three years ago.

Godi said Dlamini had to put government interests above personal considerations. He said Magwaza was right to terminate her “illegally appointed work streams”, which were working parallel to Sassa’s legal management.

National Treasury had declared their appointment irregular. The work streams had reportedly cost more than R40 million since their creation.

“Government must demonstrate seriousness about good governance and the fight against corruption. We cannot have managers forced out or suspended in order to facilitate corruption.”

The Daily Maverick revealed on Friday that a third party was pressuring Magwaza to accept a “lucrative exit package” to leave the agency but refused to make him a written offer.

Former social development director general Zane Dangor resigned from the department in March, citing a breakdown in the relationship between himself and Dlamini.

This was due to their disagreement about Sassa’s legal obligations to the Constitutional Court.

Dangor’s home was ransacked a week later. Nothing was taken, leading to suspicions that it was an attempt at intimidation.

His domestic worker and 26-year-old son were both home at the time, and were injured.

Additional reporting by News24

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November 19 2017