JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa has placed Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on special leave for two months, one of which would be unpaid, after a picture of her having lunch with ANC MP Mduduzi Manana during lockdown surfaced on social media.
The president expressed his disapproval of the minister’s actions, saying that her actions undermined the requirement that all citizens stay at home during the lockdown. He accepted Ndabeni-Abrahams’ apology for the violation but was unmoved by the mitigating factors she tendered.
“The nation-wide 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,” the president said in a statement.
“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.”
The Presidency said that Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu would act as Communications Minister during Ndabeni-Abrahams’ absence.
Ndabeni-Abrahams has also been directed to deliver a public apology to the nation.
After the image of the minister went viral, Manana, who deleted the image from his social media accounts, moved to clarify the reason for Ndabeni-Abrahams’ visit.
In his statement, Manana said the minister was on her way to meet with a group of students when he offered to donate personal protective equipment to those students.
“The minister relayed to me that the students are in need of PPEs, which my foundation has been handing over to marginalised communities. I then asked the minister to pass by my private residence to collect the material, which she gladly did.”
He said when the Ndabeni-Abrahams arrived, his family was having lunch, and he invited her to join them, to which she agreed, which is when the picture was taken.
“She then collected the material and headed to her next assignment. She took the first batch for the Fourways students and indicated that the next visit will be tomorrow (08 April 2020) at the Menlyn site, which our team will be delivering.”
He admitted to being irresponsible in posting the picture without context in a time where the country was using the lockdown to curb the spread of the virus and said his family would remain housebound.