Opposition parties call on Ramaphosa to fire Bathabile Dlamini

Opposition parties are baying for the head of former minister of social development, and currently Minister for Women in the Presidency, Bathabile Dlamini, after the Constitutional Court found that she had tried to mislead the court.

The DA will lay charges of perjury against her, and the IFP has asked Parliament's Speaker Baleka Mbete to establish an ad hoc committee to probe the Sassa, CPS tender scandal and to look into Dlamini's fitness to hold office as allegations of corruption, fraud and money laundering pertaining to the CPS tender emerged.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has also written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, asking that he fires Dlamini and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba from his Cabinet. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Appeals found that Gigaba also lied to the court.

In his letter to Ramaphosa, Maimane referred to the High Court's finding last year in relation to former president Jacob Zuma's firing of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, that constitutional decisions must be rational, including the appointment of ministers.

"We respectfully submit that, as much as it is irrational to appoint a manifestly unsuitable person to the Cabinet, it is equally irrational to retain such a person in the Cabinet, especially when the Constitutional Court and the High Court has made the pronouncements that they have. For that reason, we earnestly request that you discharge these two members from your Cabinet and act to defend the integrity of the Executive," Maimane wrote.

"Failure on your part to do so by 5 October 2018 may result in the DA embarking on similar litigation referred to above."

In December, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria found that Gigaba had "deliberately told untruths under oath". The court also found that he had violated the Constitution.

'These are not allegations'

The judgment follows a court battle launched by Fireblade Aviation, owned by the wealthy Oppenheimer family, in November 2016 against the Department of Home Affairs and others. The SCA upheld this decision.

On Thursday afternoon, in a unanimous decision, the Constitutional Court ruled that Dlamini had withheld information from the court, and that the National Prosecuting Authority should determine whether she should be prosecuted for perjury.

"Yesterday's [Thursday] scathing Constitutional Court judgment against Minister Bathabile Dlamini, in her capacity as then Minister of Social Development, confirmed that President Cyril Ramaphosa now harbours two ministers in his Cabinet who have lied under oath," Maimane said to the media on Friday.

"These are not allegations. They are the unanimous findings of the Constitutional Court and the North Gauteng High Court respectively."

"It is truly an exceptional circumstance to have two members of the executive found to have lied under oath in court cases relating to their work in government. This is intolerable, and both of these ministers should be dismissed from Cabinet."

IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe said in a statement on Friday that she had written to Mbete in March last year to request a parliamentary inquiry into Dlamini, as the Sassa debacle unfolded.

'Shocking and inexcusable'

"Speaker Mbete has to date blatantly ignored the IFP's calls to have Parliament investigate this matter," Van der Merwe said.

"Following yesterday's Constitutional Court judgment, we once again call on Speaker Mbete to institute a full scale parliamentary inquiry... into disgraced Minister Bathabile Dlamini's alleged involvement in the seemingly corrupt relationship between CPS, Sassa, the Department of Social Development and members of the ANC."

She said the call for a parliamentary inquiry should not stop Ramaphosa from firing Dlamini.

"It is truly shocking and inexcusable that Speaker Mbete has shielded a rogue minister from being held accountable by Parliament.

"The IFP has always maintained that Minister Dlamini manufactured the Sassa crisis, to ensure that the unlawful and immoral CPS contract remained in place. She wilfully defied the Constitutional Court, and she acted in contempt of court and in breach of her oath of her office in handling the matter," Van der Merwe said.

She described Thursday's court ruling as a "victory for public accountability and democracy".

"We are confident that this is yet another step in holding to account a rogue minister, who has made a mockery of Parliament’s oversight role, who has abused taxpayer money by handing billions to CPS, and disrespected the most vulnerable in our society with her deplorable conduct," she said.

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