Show nation the minister isn't above the law

While some believe the sanction by President Cyril Ramaphosa.against communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams sends a strong message that no one is above the law, many others believe it is a slap on the wrist.
While some believe the sanction by President Cyril Ramaphosa.against communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams sends a strong message that no one is above the law, many others believe it is a slap on the wrist.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

President Cyril Ramaphosa's swift action against minister of communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams should be welcomed.

Yesterday Ramaphosa placed Ndabeni-Abrahams on special leave for two months, one of which will be unpaid.

This follows a photograph which emerged on social media showing the minister having lunch at the home of friend and former deputy minister of higher education Mduduzi Manana, in violation of lockdown regulations.

Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams was also instructed to apologise publicly, which she subsequently has done.

The appropriateness of the sanction against her remains a matter of public debate.

While some believe the sanction sends a strong message that no one is above the law, many others believe it is a slap on the wrist and does not go far enough to hold her accountable for undermining stringent regulations placed on all of us, ministers and former deputy minister included.

We believe that the action by the president is a product of a political balancing act designed to appease an angry public demanding accountability as well as being mindful of the ANC's factional dynamics.

There are two things to note going forward.

The first is whether Ndabeni-Abrahams will be held accountable legally.

In his statement President Ramaphosa said the law should take its course, paving the way for police to take the appropriate legal steps applied to other citizens who fell foul of the law.

The second and equally important is whether this has been sufficient enough of a lesson to a minister who has shown time and again her propensity to abusing power.

The gravity of Ndabeni-Abrahams' actions is not limited to an otherwise harmless gathering between friends as some of her supporters would have the nation believe.

It is that such actions, similarly to the SABC camera incident last year, point to her apparent inability to exercise the highest level of discernment between right and wrong that we should expect from those who hold power.

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