President, call minister to order

President Cyril Ramaphosa must act to hold communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams accountable for her action, the writer says.
President Cyril Ramaphosa must act to hold communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams accountable for her action, the writer says.
Image: GCIS

Perhaps more frequently than some of her peers in cabinet, communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has faced several accusations of abusing power.

This week as millions of South Africans are at home, adhering to President Cyril Ramaphosa's stringent lockdown regulations, Ndabeni-Abrahams was photographed having lunch at the home of friend and former deputy minister Mduduzi Manana.

When posting the picture on his Instagram account, Manana captioned it: "It was great to host a former colleague and dear sister Cde Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams (minister of communications and digital technologies) on her way back from executing critical and essential services required for the effective functioning of our country during the nationwide lockdown."

As expected, the post sparked outrage on social media, with many rightfully asking why a cabinet minister would not be subjected to the same social rules that all of have to adhere to.

In a statement yesterday Manana claimed that Ndabeni-Abrahams had stopped by to fetch protective gear for the fight against Covid-19.

Frankly, not only does this explanation lack credibility, it appears to be a calculated back track contradicting the boastful caption under which the picture was posted. Ramaphosa has asked to discuss the matter with Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Whatever the minister's response, the incident reveals two important things. The first is that despite Ramaphosa's and health minister Zweli Mkhize's efforts to fight Covid-19, their message is not being respected by the very people meant to help them push it.

Second, that the lunch meeting was photographed and then posted on social media reveals the extent to which people like Manana and Ndabeni-Abrahams believe the rules of the country do not apply to them.

Their proximity to power had given them a false sense of superiority, deeply anchored in arrogance.

This is why Ramaphosa must act to hold her accountable for her action and to demonstrate that the rules set must be obeyed for all, without exception.

It is the only way to protect the credibility of these regulations to all South Africans.

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