ACCOUNTABILITY AT THE HEART OF TRUST
Article by Lindiwe Karosa
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has officially laid criminal charges against Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrhams and Minister Mduduzi Manana yesterday at Douglasdale Police Station. They are both accused of breaching lockdown regulations.
The question posed by many South Africans is whether it was correct for President Cyril Ramaphosa to merely reprimand Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams for an action that citizens understand to be a punishable offence with either jail time or a fine.
In a country that is governed by a constitution built on equality, the opposition party had expected the government to react in the same fashion that it had towards citizens who’d been found contravening the regulations set out by the president, however that was not the case. Are we perhaps learning that the law is applied differently when those in contravention are high-ranking government officials?
A picture of Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams having lunch with former Minister Manana and his family at Manana home during the current lockdown, had circulated on social media. South Africans put emmense pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa to take action against the Minister who failed to adhere to regulations set-out by the Presidency. The President summoned Ndabeni-Abrahams who subsequently apologised to the public and was put on special leave for two months.
Minister Manana claimed that Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams was at his home to collect Personal Protective Equipments meant to assist in fighting the spread of Covid-19. She allegedly arrived when he was having lunch with his family, and asked her to join them.
The EFF has asked the Minister of Police and SAPS to investigate these claims and also be consistent in their actions towards ordinary citizens and top government officials.
The EFF strongly believes that the action taken by the President of the Republic was unsatisfactory and described it as “a slap on the wrist”. The opposition party issued different statements in which they called for the removal of Ndabeni-Abrahams from cabinet, and voiced their intentions to pursue criminal charges for both ministers.
EFF National Spokesperson Vuyani Pambo undertook the task to press charges against the ministers. The party maintains the notion that nobody is above the law, especially during this important fight against the pandemic.