The partly unpaid special leave that Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has been placed on has done nothing to quell the ire of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who have issued a new statement calling for her to be fired.
“The two-month censure imposed on the minister for breaching the lockdown is nonsensical and suggests that ministers and members of the executive must be treated as if they are above the law,” read part of the statement.
“Ordinary citizens are subjected to the full might of the law should they breach lockdown regulations,” added the EFF.
The party went on to call Ndabeni-Abrahams’ actions “insulting and undermining” to the many South Africans who were adhering to the rules of the lockdown.
The statement was issued after massive fallout following a picture posted by controversial political figure Mduduzi Manana, showing Ndabeni-Abrahams having lunch with him and his family at his house during the country’s current lockdown period which calls for social distancing and puts a ban on all physical socialising and non-essential travel.
The former ANC MP later told the country that the minister had actually been at his home in her official capacity and was therefore supposedly not in breach of lockdown rules.
The EFF went on to state that “the attitude that ministers are above reproach is a common trend in the Ramaphosa regime”.
“We have seen it with Pravin Gordhan and we see it now with a minister who has fundamentally undermined efforts to combat a global pandemic.”
Furthermore, the party called on the minister of police to set the SAPS on Ndabeni-Abrahams and for an investigation into Manana’s claims that the minister was visiting in an effort to procure PPE from his foundation.
“Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams must be removed from cabinet if the integrity of this national lockdown is to be maintained and the rule of law taken seriously.”
The DA, on the other hand, feels as though the president’s announcement on Ndabeni-Abrahams’ censure “is better than nothing, and far more than we have come to expect of the governing party”.
However, according to the party’s shadow minister of communications and digital technology, Phumzile Van Damme, “we cannot praise a fish for attempting to move a fin in order to swim”.
While the DA notes her apology, they believe it came too little too late and that she ought to know better.
Much like the EFF, the DA would have preferred to see Ndabeni-Abrahams fired and charged for breaking the law.
It was for that reason that we thought it important for the President to send out a strong message to the public by both firing #NdabeniAbrahams and laying a criminal complaint against her.
— Phumzile Van Damme (@zilevandamme) April 8, 2020
“Should President Ramaphosa not lay the criminal complaint, he should at the very least address the nation together with the minister of police and the national police commissioner to assure the nation that SAPS will indeed act against Ndabeni-Abrahams. Our country faces a major crisis, the biggest since the dawn of democracy, it cannot be business as usual,” concluded the statement.