The African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday called on its national executive committee (NEC) members to lead by example and demonstrate political consciousness during the coronavirus lockdown period.
This comes after Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams was seen having lunch with former deputy minister Mduduzi Manana and others in an image posted on social media.
The pair has come under fire for blatantly disregarding lockdown regulations, which bar anyone from leaving their home except for essential activities.
First it was Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu appearing to make light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m finding it difficult to stay at home, virus just go away. Please leave us alone, we have a life to live.”
And now Ndabeni-Abrahams has caused a stir as perceptions mount that she too is not taking the lockdown regulations seriously.
Questioned on the issue on Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he had summoned Ndabeni-Abrahams to discuss the impact of her actions.
For the president the stakes are high: “Lives are important, and the lives of our people matter,” he said.
ANC Deputy Secretary General Jesse Duarte issued an awkward reminder to NEC members, pointing out that photos of opulent living and consumption of non-essential substances should be avoided.
“This has required drastic measures that result in hardship for all, most especially the working class and poor. Let us lead by example and demonstrate political consciousness and sensitivity in our conduct and communication, especially on social media,” the statement read.
At the same time, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has called on Ndabeni-Abrahams to apologise to South Africans for what they called “grandiose display of flouting governments lockdown regulations”.
“Ministers are not above the law and the regulations. Luncheons and gatherings at friends or family are in contravention of the gazetted regulations of the lockdown,” the party said in a statement released on Tuesday.
IFP also welcomed Ramaphosa’s handling of the matter.
“This is not a time for double-standards and for displays of leadership in adhering to lockdown regulations. President Ramaphosa should request that Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams apologises and commits to the regulations.”
The party then urged South Africans to continue staying at home to stop the spread of coronavirus.
For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.