Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: MASI LOSI
Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: MASI LOSI

Former minister and ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini is the seventh former executive member to resign as an MP after not being appointed to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new cabinet.

The office of the ANC chief whip on Tuesday confirmed Dlamini’s resignation.

She follows Nomaindia Mfeketo, Jeff Radebe, Siyabonga Cwele, Susan Shabangu, Tokozile Xasa and Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, all former ministers who did not make the cut. Former tourism minister Derek Hanekom resigned later on Tuesday, becoming the eighth minister to step down.

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Some of the former ministers had said they were resigning to protect their ministerial pensions. However, Business Day earlier this week established that this was not the case, as former ministers serving as MPs would carry on contributing to the Political Office Bearers Pension Fund, and would actually grow their pension fund.

On the other hand, what might make it attractive to resign is a 2008 presidential proclamation that makes an allowance for a one-off gratuity to be paid by the employer (and not the fund) to ministers or deputy ministers who served more than five years and whose term ends. This was equal to four months’ pensionable salary for every five years served.

Dlamini has been a controversial figure and South Africans were shocked in February 2018 when, after taking over from former president Jacob Zuma, Ramaphosa did not remove her from cabinet.

At the time Ramaphosa moved Dlamini from the ministry of social development to minister of women in the presidency.

She was also one of the ANC leaders on the party’s list of candidates for the National Assembly red flagged by the ANC's integrity commission.

While serving as social development minister, Dlamini was labelled incompetent over her handling of the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) fiasco, which saw almost 17-million grant beneficiaries at risk of not receiving their money.

Chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, while hearing the Sassa matter in 2017, questioned her ability to do her job when he asked her lawyer, “How do you get to the level where your clients make themselves look like they are incompetent?”

In 2018, she was found to have possibly lied under oath when dealing with the Sassa debacle. She had denied responsibility for the affair and, in doing so, was alleged to have lied to the highest court in the land.

In September 2018, the Constitutional Court ordered Dlamini to pay 20% of the legal costs of the Black Sash Trust and Freedom Under Law in relation to the Sassa debacle, out of her own pocket.

It also directed that the national director of public prosecutions make a call on whether Dlamini should be prosecuted and charged for perjury for lying under oath.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is yet to make a decision on this.

In her letter of resignation, sent to ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, Dlamini said the media had been used to destroy some of the party’s leaders.

With regard to the Sassa matter, Dlamini said the Constitutional Court judgment did not suggest that she was corrupt.

“But I know that it is dragged [sic] so that at the end of the day it is pronounced that I was corrupt…,” she said, referring to Sassa’s contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).

Dlamini said she held no grudge about being removed from cabinet.

“What disturbed me gravely is that the legend that has been used is that there is a lot of noise around me. I strongly believe that this was engineered somewhere because I was very naive about taking grant payments to a local level,” she said.

“I am convinced that our country is far from developing or improving because there are those among us that have the support of the media, that have mastered the art of demonising some of us and, unfortunately, they are seen as very committed, clean and innocent when they have shares in some of those institutions.