Johannesburg – Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s spokesperson Lumka Oliphant has taken “full responsibility” for her foul-worded rant on Facebook over the minister’s sobriety.
Oliphant trended on Twitter and made news last week over her Facebook post defending her boss, who was accused of being drunk at an event in Germiston.
Oliphant claimed that Dlamini was not drunk, that she did not drink alcohol and would prefer to have it banned. She then described the mothers of those who differed with her of being “village whores”.
“I have decided to take this alcohol matter to the gutter where you have taken it. If you have said that Bathabile drinks, I say that your mother is the whore of the town. You can identify an alcoholic because your mother is one,” she said.
Her post prompted many to call for her resignation.
Speaking on The Eusebius McKaiser Show on Radio 702 on Monday, the host asked if Oliphant felt she needed to apologise, she responded in Xhosa, “Ndithi, kubafazi endibathukileyo, ndicela uxolo”, loosely translated “I say to the women I have insulted, I’m sorry”.
Oliphant said her post was “unfortunate and regrettable”, and told McKaiser that she wanted to put things into perspective.
She said Dlamini, who is also president of the ANC Women’s League, was a leading figure in the fight against alcohol and substance abuse, and gender-based violence in the country.
She also lashed out at those who hid behind their Twitter handles and made malicious reports about the minister taking alcohol, saying: “It’s a lie. The Minister of Social Development does not take alcohol, and I hope this is going to settle it.”
The words in Oliphant’s Facebook post were unacceptable, and “I take full responsibility”.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete phoned into the radio show, and said the post was “unprofessional, it should not have been said”.
McKaiser asked if Oliphant was under the influence when she composed her post, she responded that she was a responsible mother and “I do drink but I was not drunk that day”.
She said she was “very responsible in my drinking, I will never drink in public”, and that if she wanted to go to a party she’d leave her car at home and take Uber.
Asked if she will change her use of social media going forward, Oliphant stuck to her guns, saying she would continue using it “for my personal things”.
Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor seemed to suggest that she’d seen Dlamini take alcohol before, to which Oliphant responded: “I don’t wish to give (allegations) a dignified response. She sounds like a person who is bitter and who wants to sound relevant all the time.”
Oliphant refused to answer the question on whether she would resign over the saga.