Madonsela considers food-for-votes complaint against Bathabile Dlamini

2013-09-20 14:34

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is assessing the DA’s complaint alleging that Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini abused state resources for political gain in Tlokwe.

Oupa Segalwe, spokesperson for the Public Protector, told City Press today that Madonsela was considering the complaint by the DA’s Mike Waters to determine if it merits investigation.

Waters lodged the complaint last week after Dlamini distributed food parcels days before this week’s crucial by-elections.

The by-elections in Tlokwe could sway the balance of power.

Seats became vacant when the ANC expelled 14 of its councillors for voting out controversial ANC then mayor Maphetle Maphetle early this year. The expulsions were overturned but some of the councillors chose not to return to the ANC.

The ANC managed to retain two out of three wards in Wednesday’s by-elections.

Waters accused Dlamini, an ANC national executive committee member, of using her position as social development minister to benefit her party by allegedly buying votes with food.

But Dlamini hit back accusing “rich people” of insulting Tlokwe voters by assuming that the poor “vote with their stomachs”.

Dlamini’s visit to Ikageng, North West, last week, where she handed out food parcels and blankets to the elderly, has been widely criticised as “electioneering” by the opposition.

Government came to Dlamini’s defence last week and lambasted claims of electioneering.

As Dlamini was handing out food parcels, she told residents: “Don’t listen to people who make promises. No one can bring development in a month’s time where they did not do that in their own area. Don’t be gullible.”

Flanked by ANC provincial chairperson Supra Mahumapelo and North West MEC for Social Development Collen Maine, she told Tlokwe residents not to “listen to people who eat nice food”.

“There’s been propaganda with people saying that we are giving people food parcels because of the by-elections. People who say that are rich. They open their fridges, look at the food, they don’t take anything and they close the fridge. Don’t use people’s poverty as a political football,” she said.

She said claims that the ANC had misused government resources were unfounded.

“It is also insulting to say that our people vote with their stomachs. It is very sad actually,” Dlamini said.

She said it was unfair that her visit to the poverty-stricken Tlokwe, an area ranked first in terms of child hunger, had been politicised despite similar visits to Oudtshoorn’s Klein Karoo town in the Western Cape last month.

Dlamini’s Oudtshoorn visit also took place a few days before a crucial by-election, which the ANC lost, thereby losing control of the municipality to the DA.

But the DA alleges that Dlamini employed 180 ANC Youth League members through the SA Social Security Agency to conduct door-to-door canvassing for the ANC under the guise of “profiling” poverty in the wards prior to last week’s event.

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