The ANC has released a statement welcoming the ruling by the Constitutional Court to suspend Sassa’s contract with Net1’s CPS by 12 months, so that millions of grants beneficiaries can be paid on 1 April.
In the court ruling, the chief justices lambasted Sassa and minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini, saying that they were solely responsible for facilitating the grants crisis to such a point that the court had to get involved.
Their behaviour was described as “absolutely incompetent”, and even went so far as to order Dlamini to make submissions to the court, why she should not be held personally accountable to pay costs on the matter.
In the ANC’s statement following the ruling, the party agreed with the court, saying that “the regrettable events over the past few weeks were unnecessary and should have never happened.”
It went further and called for “harsh consequence management” to deter a repeat of this matter.
“Government must thoroughly investigate actions of those involved and act decisively against those responsible for this embarrassing and undesirable situation,” the party said.
“It is unacceptable that such a critical aspect of our social security net, affecting the security and livelihood of the most vulnerable in our country, was not dealt with much better in a speedy manner to avoid the unnecessary panic and anxiety caused.”
For her part, Dlamini apologised for the fiasco.
However, just one day before the court’s ruling, president Jacob Zuma stood in parliament and denied that there was any wrongdoing on Dlamini’s part, and said it would be impossible to punish her, as long as payments were made on 1 April 2017.
“You can’t say that people have not been paid (grants) as the date has not yet arrived. Only after the 1st can you ask me why have you not take action against this minister,” Zuma said.
“It is a premature debate – I am very clear.”
While Zuma clarified that he never said there wasn’t a problem, he just had faith that the matter would be resolved and that grants would be paid.
By all accounts, from opposition parties, to the Constitutional Court and even now the ANC, there has been a spectacular failure on the part of Dlamini and Sassa – however, Zuma has remained firm in her defence.
This marks the second time in at least as many weeks that president Zuma has been at odds with the official line of the ANC.
At the start of the month Zuma insisted that the ANC should adopt a policy of land redistribution without compensation, and called on black parties in parliament to vote in favour of changing the constitution to reflect that.
Days later, the ANC released its policy documents where it maintained the view that its official stance was on giving compensation for land.
Analysts have explained the contrasting voices coming from the ANC by pointing to the divisions within the party – saying that those who are penning the policies are not entirely aligned with the president and his supporters.
Ultimately, the true future direction of the party will be determined by who its next leader is, the analysts said.