Ramaphosa ‘waiting’ for Bathabile Dlamini to be criminally charged – report
The most loyal of Zuma loyalists escaped the axe this week, but perhaps only because it's still being sharpened.
Ex-Minister of Women in the Presidency Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: Gallo Images
According to a report in the Sunday Times today, the real reason President Cyril Ramaphosa did not axe Bathabile Dlamini this week was because he’s hesitant to give the ANC’s Jacob Zuma faction a chance to say that he’s purging all those who were close to the former president.
However, the minister of women appears to be far from in the clear, since the Hawks are investigating her for perjury after the Constitutional Court recommended earlier this year that she be investigated for lying under oath and possibly prosecuted.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is yet to decide whether to prosecute. However, the institution is also currently waiting for its next head following the removal of Shaun Abrahams.
Insiders believe Shamila Batohi, a former KwaZulu-Natal head of prosecutions who has worked at the International Criminal Court in The Hague since 2009, is the most likely candidate to take the reins.
Once Dlamini is criminally charged, it would give Ramaphosa reason enough to fire her, or for her to have no choice but to resign, as appears to have happened with former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba.
The Citizen reported on Friday that Ramaphosa could not remove Dlamini because he still fears infuriating the strong hand of Zuma, the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal and the rest of the Zuma camp.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said there was no substantial reason for Ramaphosa to keep Dlamini in his Cabinet, except that he was “worried because the balance of forces were still heavily against him in the ANC”.
He said Ramaphosa’s reason for opposing the DA’s high court application to have Dlamini axed made no sense because he should have dismissed her himself if he was to still defend the principle of his presidential prerogative to appoint and fire ministers.
In a mini Cabinet reshuffle on Thursday, Ramaphosa announced Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams as minister of telecommunications and moved Siyabonga Cwele to home affairs, while Nomvula Mokonyane was appointed as minister of environmental affairs.
Cwele’s former telecommunications and Mokonyane’s former communications departments were merged under Ndabeni-Abrahams.
The president shocked almost everyone when he failed to remove Dlamini.
Social media was abuzz with reports that Ramaphosa was warned by the Zuma camp that, should he dismiss Dlamini, he “would see flames”.
The DA has applied to the high court, seeking that the appointments of both Dlamini and former home affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba be declared unconstitutional and invalid because they had lied under oath.
The ruling ANC welcomed the Cabinet reshuffle, saying it showed Ramaphosa’s determination to continue on the path of hope and renewal.
“The appointment of the three ministers demonstrates commitment both in deeds and in action to intergenerational mix and experience,” the ANC said.
In his reaction to the Cabinet announcement, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said while his party welcomed Ramaphosa’s commitment to making the Cabinet more capable, he missed a second opportunity to fire “delinquent ministers” such as Dlamini and Mokonyane and to cut down the size of his bloated executive.
Ramaphosa decided to oppose the DA high court application for Dlamini’s axing on the basis, according to the DA, that her appointment was unconstitutional and invalid.
He would do so to defend the principle of his power to appoint and dismiss ministers, but not on the merits of the matter before the court.
(Background reporting, Eric Naki. Edited by Charles Cilliers)