President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended his retention of embattled women’s minister Bathabile Dlamini, saying on Thursday night that she was doing a “fantastic job, particularly now in these 16 day of activism” against gender based violence.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview on Radio 702 with Xolani Gwala, Ramaphosa dismissed claims made by Gwala that Dlamini was “untouchable”. Instead, said Ramaphosa, he could fire her if he chose to, and did not need to give any reasons why.
Dlamini was moved from being social development minister in February and took up a ministerial post at the department of women.
In September, the Constitutional Court ordered her to pay 20 percent of the legal costs related to the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grant payment debacle.
Freedom Under Law and the Black Sash Trust brought the application for a costs order, blaming Dlamini for the 11th-hour applications to the country's highest court, which led to extensions of the department's contract with Cash Paymaster Services to pay social grants.
The court found Dlamini was “not truthful” in her submissions and a decision would need to be taken by the National Director of Public Prosecutions whether or not to charge her with perjury.
Said Ramaphosa to Gwala during the interview: “The cabinet are all members of the ANC [African National Congress] and some sit on the [National Executive Committee]. We are all bound together to the decisions of our movement [taken at the 2017 elective conference] at which we were clear on fighting corruption. Those I found appointed by [former president] Jacob Zuma I could have let go. Dlamini is doing a fantastic job,” said Ramaphosa.
He said he finalised an affidavit on Thursday to oppose a Pretoria High Court application lodged by the Democratic Alliance calling for the removal of Dlamini.
“This afternoon I signed an affidavit where a party is taking me to court that said I should dismiss that minister and the argument will be heard in court and the judges should in the end take the decision,” he said.
Pushed on whether he could fire Dlamini, who is also the leader of the ANC’s women’s league, without causing “a fire” he answered: “Yes”
“As president of ANC and South Africa everyone who is appointed or removed from cabinet must subscribe to conditions and deployed. You aren’t always given reasons but must go along [with the decision],” said Ramaphosa.