Ramaphosa puts Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on special leave, orders her to publicly apologise

2020-04-08 12:46
Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. (@PresidencyZA/Twitter)

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. (@PresidencyZA/Twitter)

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken a firm stance against Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, following allegations that Ndabeni-Abrahams breached lockdown regulations by visiting a friend.

On Wednesday, Ramaphosa put Ndabeni-Abrahams on special leave and directed her to apologise publicly after a picture of her having a meal at the home of former deputy minister of higher education Mduduzi Manana went viral on social media.

The post, which appears to be a screengrab of Manana's Instagram page, shows the two politicians and several others seated at a table.

Ramaphosa summoned Ndabeni-Abrahams to a meeting on Tuesday where he expressed his disapproval and told her that she undermined lockdown regulations which required all citizens to stay at home to curb the spread of Covid-19.

On Wednesday, Ramaphosa said in a statement that while he accepted Ndabeni-Abrahams' apology, he was "unmoved" by mitigating factors she tendered.

As for allegations that Ndabeni-Abrahams breached lockdown regulations, Ramaphosa said the law should take its course.

He reprimanded Ndabeni-Abrahams, put her on a special leave for two months, of which one month will be unpaid, and asked her to deliver a public apology.

READ | Here’s what SA businesses are doing to survive – from moving pay day to cutting hours

"The nationwide lockdown calls for absolute compliance on the part of all South Africans. Members of the national executive carry a special responsibility in setting an example to South Africans, who are having to make great sacrifices.

"None of us – not least a member of the national executive – should undermine our national effort to save lives in this very serious situation. I am satisfied that Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams appreciates the seriousness of what she has done and that no-one is above the law," Ramaphosa said.

While Ndabeni-Abrahams is on special leave, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu will act in her place.

On Tuesday, Manana attempted to set the record straight, saying he and Ndabeni-Abrahams were on essential business during the lunch.

READ | Ndabeni-Abrahams' lockdown picture: It was not social lunch, visit was for 'essential business' - Manana

He said Ndabeni-Abrahams had dropped by his private residence to collect gloves, masks and hand sanitisers, which was a donation to students working on "Covid-19 digital services".

Manana added the donation was from his foundation and another donation was expected to be made on Wednesday.

"In hindsight, it was irresponsible to post a picture without giving a clear context and thereby creating the impression that it was a social lunch. For this, I profusely apologise," Manana said.

Read more on:    presidency  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  mduduzi manana  |  stella ndabeni-abrahams  |  coronavirus
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