President Cyril Ramaphosa will be meeting with Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to discuss a social media post which shows her supposedly breaking lockdown regulations.
In a controversial image posted by former ANC MP Mduduzi Manana on Instagram on April 7, Ndabeni-Abrahams is seen sharing a meal with him and others, which contravenes social distancing rules put in place to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The picture’s caption reads: “It was great to host a former colleague and dear sister Cde Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on her way back from executing critical and essential services required for the effective running of our country during the nationwide lockdown.”
The picture has since been deleted.
“I have seen the picture of minister Ndabeni-Abrahams sitting at the luncheon with a number of friends and other people. I have asked her to come and see me. I am going to have a discussion with her about the impact of visuals such as those on what we are trying to do,” Ramaphosa said.
He was speaking after his visit to the water and sanitation command centre at the Rand Water offices on Tuesday.
The president said those whose work falls under the essential services category and have been granted work permits should not misuse them.
“We are trying to instil a clear message to all our people that social distancing is important. Let us stay at home, let us not be going around with visitations. If you have to [travel], it must be work-related,” he iterated.
DA MP Phumzile Van Damme was among those who shared their concerns and disappointment on social media about the post. She announced her intention to write a letter to Ramaphosa on Twitter.
“She [Ndabeni- Abrahams is a leader and must set an example. I hope he takes strong action against her,’ Van Damme said.
The president noted that the toughest challenge for the national command team was getting every South African to comply with the law.
“My biggest challenge is to get every South African to abide by rules, but [the bigger challenge] is to stop the spread of the virus and to get the spread of the virus to flatten, to stop the deaths of those who succumb to Covid-19,” he said.
Another key issue Ramaphosa mentioned was ensuring that the economy remains strong enough to sustain the population even after the country has beaten Covid-19.
“We are going to be coming up with strategies and plans of how we address South African challenges beyond Covid-19,” he said.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Manana said that Abrahams was at his home collecting masks, gloves and hand sanitisers for students working on the Covid-19 digital services the day picture was taken.
“On her arrival, my family was having lunch and I courteously invited her to join us,” Manana said.
Tuesday marked day 12 of the 21-day national lockdown. The latest official figures stand at 1 749 confirmed cases and 131 deaths owing to Covid-19.