South Africa’s top court ordered former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini to pay a portion of the costs related to legal processes stemming from a dispute over the country’s welfare-grants system, which distributes almost R150-billion/year.
The constitutional court will also send documents to the National Prosecuting Authority to determine whether Dlamini lied under oath and should be prosecuted for perjury, after she submitted false information to the court, Judge Johan Froneman said in a ruling delivered Thursday in Johannesburg.
Dlamini last year took responsibility for the welfare department’s failure to find a new service provider to handle grants payments, after the constitutional court ruled in 2014 that a contract with Net1 UEPS Technologies to handle the payouts was invalid. The social-security payments are the biggest government initiative to help alleviate poverty in South Africa, amid high unemployment, slowing economic growth and high inequality.
“Her conduct was reckless and grossly negligent, all that is sufficient reason for a personal cost order,” Froneman said, holding Dlamini personally liable for 20% of the costs of the legal processes. The costs application was brought by South African advocacy groups Black Sash and Freedom Under Law.
Dlamini was dismissed as head of the social development department in a cabinet reorganisation in February, after Cyril Ramaphosa replaced Jacob Zuma as president. She is currently the minister of women’s affairs. — Reported by Amogelang Mbatha, (c) 2018 Bloomberg LP