In the past few weeks, two directors-general of government departments have been suspended and the CEO of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) fired.

The three cases have lots in common. The directors-general, water affairs head Dan Mashitisho and agriculture head Mike Mlengana, had been asked by their  political principals to sign contracts they believed were illegal or unprocedural.

Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza has had a long conflict with his principal, Bathabile Dlamini, over her interference in the agency’s work, in particular finalising a contract with a new service provider to conduct the payment of social grants….more