The final responsibility for the discharge of the constitutional imperative for the state to provide social security rests with the Minister. As such, it is fitting that she be held liable for the ineffectual delivery of the right. That she sought, as the Court pointed out, to blame SASSA officials for the payment crisis, is an indication of a Minister failing to comprehend that the ultimate oversight function over the department rests with the Minister, and no one else.

The order to investigate the Minister’s personal liability is a cautious step towards ensuring greater accountability from public officials. It nonetheless is an unprecedented step, which perhaps reveals the Court’s (and the Nation’s) impatience with recalcitrant public officials.

Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation

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