Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has appointed Pearl Bhengu as interim CEO of the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa). Bhengu replaces Thokozani Magwaza, who controversially left the agency earlier this week.
There has been speculation that Magwaza was pushed out of Sassa following disagreements with Dlamini over the distribution of social grants.
Magwaza has said that his contract was terminated, but David Lewis, the executive director at Corruption Watch, says there is no question as to whether Magwaza was pushed out or resigned.
If you know the immediate history of his relationship with the minister, and you see what her past conduct was there is no doubt in my mind that he was forced out.— David Lewis, executive director at Corruption Watch
The appointment of Bhengu is concerning to Lewis, as she is apparently a confidant of Minister Dlamini. Dlamini believes that Bhengu will help stablise Sassa, but Lewis feels that the only instability facing the agency is the minister herself.
Lewis says that Magwaza provided the confidence that Sassa was stablising and doing what it had to do to meet the Constitutional Courts requirements regarding the distribution of social grants . This has been undone by Dlamini wanting to get rid of him.
The minister has one again put up a middle finger at the Constitutional Court.— David Lewis, executive director at Corruption Watch
According to Lewis, the minister's actions show that she is either demonstrating that she is so confident in her own power and support network that she is unaccountable, or that she is so far in the situation that she cant afford to get out.
He added that he has no doubt that generating this kind of instability in Sassa will jeopardise the agency's ability to meet the courts requirements on answering why they could not pay out social grants to those in need.
Listen to the full interview below: