Wed. Nov 20th, 2019

Bathabile Dlamini: Why she’s likely to be booted from cabinet next week

Bathabile Dlamini cabinetIt seems Bathabile Dlamini’s departure from cabinet is getting closer. Ramaphosa has some big decisions to make next week, and she could be the first casualty.

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She’s one of the most divisive figures representing the ANC at the moment, in a field where she has plenty of competition. Yet Bathabile Dlamini has remained at the very top of the political tree for the past few years. All that could come to a crashing halt though, as Cyril Ramaphosa plans his next move.

As the Sunday Times report, Dlamini’s job as Minister for Women is hanging by a thread, and the president is ready to turf her out of office. She has already survived two Ramaphosa reshuffles, but it could very well be third time unlucky for the controversial figure.

Her departure wouldn’t be without acrimony, either. As the government’s highest authority for women in South Africa, there’s no doubt her supporters will cry foul if she’s given the can. That’s why we’re taking a brief look at her history of scandal, to remind us all why Cyril is preparing to cut the cord:

Bathabile Dlamini – a history of scandal

Minister Dlamini and the CEO of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) Pearl Bhengu were thick as thieves together as they attempted to run the Department of Social Development. Bathabile’s reputation was left in tatters after a Parliamentary hearing turned up some shocking revelations about her abuse of power – and state funds:

  • The total in irregular expenditure during her time as minister comes to R1.3 billion.
  • When the hearing got underway, 664 cases of maladministration were under consideration.
  • Bathabile Dlamini used R2 million from Sassa’s pot to hire top-notch security for her children. This was entirely excessive.
  • Dlamini and Bhengu spent R43 million on “work streams” to figure out a new grants system. It proved utterly fruitless.
  • The pair orchestrated “wholesale abuse” of the emergency funding system, asking for triple the price of what blankets and sheets would originally cost.

“Abuse of the system”

Bathabile Dlamini knows how to trick the system, too. When planning an event for Sassa, she requested a marquee for R485 000, flooring for R482 000 and decor for R487 000. You’ll notice these figures are all close to – but do not exceed – R500 000…

That’s because anything the department requests which costs more than half-a-million rand must be declared through special emergency channels. Dlamini and Bhengu pushed their luck as far as they could, without having to go down any official routes. Interestingly enough, Sassa approved all of these costs on the same day.

In 2016, it was reported that Sassa’s expenditure had actually risen by more than 1 000%, jumping from R93 million to R1 billion 12 months later. That’s a staggering leap, even by Bathabile Dlamini’s high standards.

Ramaphosa to consider axing Bathabile Dlamini from his cabinet

Cyril can no longer afford to have liabilities in his cabinet, and – much like we’re seeing Ace Magashule shoot his mouth off – the president won’t want any more dissenting voices in his inner circle. Dlamini has previously criticised Ramaphosa for “supporting” Khwezi; the alleged rape victim of Jacob Zuma.

Her comments on corruption haven’t gone down well, either. She’s called for state capture players to be “forgiven” rather than punished, claiming that people are too quick to “label” politicians who get things wrong. Dlamini must be talking from experience, here.

Parliament reconvenes later this week, and we’re expected to get a better idea of who will appear in Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet once the session has concluded. Bathabile Dlamini will have to buckle up for this, because it promises to be a bumpy ride over the next few days.

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