Dlamini hits back at Public Protector

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Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: Elizabeth Sejake
Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: Elizabeth Sejake

The Public Protector today was criticised for getting “too personal” following her latest report on food parcels. 

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini said in Parliament today that Thuli Madonsela got personal in her report. 

“I was not even part of the event she is talking about. The report sounds very personal and I do not take kindly to that, because if you do your work, it must be based on principles not individuals.” 

Yesterday, Madonsela released a report on the separation between state and political parties. In the report she found that the distribution of food parcels in 2009 by Julius Malema, who was the leader of the ANC Youth League at the time, was contrary to the Constitution and an abuse of state resources. 

Although Sassa is being referred to in the report, Dlamini is not named. The incident raised in the report, also happened whilst Edna Molewa was still minister of social development.

According to the report, Malema handed out food parcels that had been bought by the South African Social Security Agency. The agency’s involvement was considered inappropriate. 

Madonsela has, among other things, recommended that the department of social development should develop a proper policy and circulate it so that the separation between state and political parties was clear, and to ensure that no state platform was allowed to abuse its position for the marketing of political parties. 

Dlamini replied that her department’s duty was to alleviate poverty. She said there were policies in place for social relief that didn’t only include food parcels, but also the empowerment of communities. 

“It is unfair to expect that people’s needs can just be switched on and off. Food is a very basic need. You can’t say because you are campaigning, you cannot support people.” 

Dlamini emphasised that it wasn’t just food parcels, but holistic social distress relief. 

“All political parties – when it is this time [elections], they give food parcels – all of them and they use state money. I call on the Public Protector to study this phenomenon more broadly, also in provinces and to not just look at the Social Security Agency and my department. Look at all political parties. This is always going to be contested terrain.” 

Dlamini has come under fire several times because her department through the social security agency has distributed food parcels – especially during and leading up to elections. 

Opposition parties have also demanded that the Independent Electoral Commission be strict and prohibit food parcels being handed out in election campaigns. 

Earlier Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane reportedly said: “It can not be that the ANC believes such voters must just eat at the time of elections.”

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