President Jacob Zuma's announcement that he will head the interministerial committee, established to probe the social grants crisis, has reportedly sparked fears amongst officials at the South African Social Services Agency (Sassa) that they will be sidelined, and that Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini will be favoured.
Business Day reported that officials, speaking anonymously, said they feared that Zuma would back Dlamini on the committee, further sidelining officials who had until now been at odds with Dlamini over the handling of the situation.
On Friday, the Consitutional Court extended the contract between Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and Sassa for a year. The process will be strictly managed by the Court, and Sassa will have to report back to it every three months.
The court was asked by the civil rights organisation, Black Sash, to give clarity on the contracting and payment of social grants. The contract with CPS was due to expire on March 31.
Friday's judgment follows less than 24 hours after Zuma told the National Assembly "there is no crisis" with the payment of grants. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Wednesday said that indeed, there was "a crisis".
Zuma announced the committee on Saturday. It will include the ministers of telecommunications and postal services, communications and home affairs.
On Monday, Business Day reported that part of the tension between Sassa officials and Dlamini had been the appointment of advisers, working in parallel to officials.
One Sassa official told the paper: "The court set out detailed report-back obligations, which were very encouraging. But by appointing himself to head the committee, Zuma is sending a message to the court about who is in control."