Bathabile Dlamini, minister for women in the Presidency. Picture: THULANI MBELE
Bathabile Dlamini, minister for women in the Presidency. Picture: THULANI MBELE

President Cyril Ramaphosa missed an opportunity once again to show South Africans that he is serious about rooting out the rot in the government.

Announcing his second cabinet reshuffle since he took over the reins of the country in February, Ramaphosa, despite expectations, failed to remove one of the most tainted ministers in his cabinet — Bathabile Dlamini, formerly the minister of social development and now the minister for women in the presidency.

He might think politically it is not a comfortable move, and certainly it is not ideal to have another enemy outside the fold — let us not forget that former president Jacob Zuma was most dangerous when he was out of the fold. But when you look at the facts, Dlamini should have gone.

Nomvula Mokonyane has once again been shifted to another portfolio, this time from communications to the less strategic environmental affairs ministry. Dlamini, however, has adverse findings against her. The highest court in the land — the Constitutional Court — has found that she lied under oath while serving as minister of social development and has called on the National Prosecuting Authority to look at prosecuting her on perjury charges.

Dlamini was found by the court to have lied and was labelled incompetent.

The implications of her lies are worse than those  of former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba, who resigned last week. Gigaba was found by the courts to have lied under oath in the matter of the decision to grant the Oppenheimers permission for Fireblade Aviation to operate a private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport. He also facilitated the granting of citizenship to members of the Gupta family.

Dlamini was found by the court to have lied and was labelled incompetent. Yet unlike Gigaba, albeit forced, she does not seem to think that she should at least resign if Ramaphosa is not prepared at this time to remove her.

At the department of social development, Dlamini put the livelihood of 17-million grant beneficiaries at risk because of her handling of the SA Social Security Agency debacle and traumatised them when they thought they might not get their money.

Keeping her as a minister is an indictment on Ramaphosa. Like Zuma, he seems to be putting the ANC and his own political survival first.

Dlamini is president of the ANC Women’s League and sits on the ANC’s highest decision-making body, the national executive committee. But it is mystifying that this is a consideration, because  the  league was not the kingmaker, despite its pretentions, at the party’s elective conference in 2017.

Dlamini had ensured that the  league threw  its weight behind Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. When Ramaphosa won the race, Dlamini had to be taken to a back room and calmed down before addressing a media briefing, where she berated the ANC for not voting for its first female president. But at the same time, the  league did nothing to ensure that a woman was at least the second in command and voted for David Mabuza, snubbing Lindiwe Sisulu, for the position of deputy president.

After all this, Ramaphosa moved her to the ministry of women. Yes, he took her out of a strategic portfolio, but what does it say about his views on the ministry of women?

The cabinet reshuffle was basically forced on Ramaphosa, and maybe  he is planning to remove  Dlamini after  2019’s elections, but this would have been the prime time to show that he is serious about change.

He has taken far-reaching decisions thus far, but those have mostly been prompted by necessity and process. Ramaphosa may well be waiting for court processes to act against Dlamini, which speaks volumes about how he views his role as president — he continues to favour a wait-and-see approach to governance. While effective at times, this is reckless on the eve of an election. 

The ANC is on a slippery slope, and Ramaphosa’s actions continue to fall far short of what the country needs. 

President Ramaphosa has shuffled his cabinet. Here are the highlights