Durban - The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has joined the many calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to dismiss Minister for Women Bathabile
Dlamini from the Cabinet. It also expressed the hope that the National Director of Public Prosecutions act firmly and speedily on the judgement against her.

This follow’s Thursday’s Constitutional Court decision to hold the former social development minister personally liable for part of the legal costs in the Sassa saga. The court ruled that Dlamini has to personally pay 20 percent of the legal costs incurred in the social grants application brought by the Black Sash Trust and Freedom Under Law, including the costs of two counsel.

It noted that the minister’s “degree of culpability in misleading the Court” was “inimical to the values of the Constitution”. Stating that the Department of Social Development is “as much responsible for the realisation of rights outlined in the Constitution as this Court”, the judgement
went on to say that as minister of that portfolio, she had used her position to “place herself between constitutionally enshrined rights and those entitled to them”.

The ruling also specified that the National Director of Public Prosecutions consider if Dlamini had lied under oath and whether she could be prosecuted for perjury.

The foundation’s executive director, Neeshan Balton, said: “That her conduct went against the values of the Constitution should lead us to question her fitness to continue serving as a public representative in our Cabinet. Even though she has been moved from the social development department, what assurances do we have that she will not once again act in a ‘reckless and grossly negligent’ manner as Minister of Women?”

Balton stated that in February this year, the Foundation, as a member of the Future South Africa coalition, called for the “immediate removal of Dlamini who had imperilled the provision of social grants”.

“Following the damning judgement yesterday, we’re reiterating this call. It is an indictment having a public representative in office, representing South Africans, many of whom could have been without bread on their tables because of her actions.”

Speaking about the broader implications of the ruling, Balton said, “It sets precedent for holding to account others who may have abused their positions of power, but would have avoided responsibility, with the state paying for legal costs. “The ruling makes it very clear that public representatives who act in a manner that is negligent or in bad faith to the Courts can be held personally accountable - something which is going to be an important element of rebuilding a state with integrity."

He added, “We must congratulate Black Sash and Freedom Under Law on their victory, and commend them for fighting this fight. When Black Sash and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies filed an urgent application at the Constitutional Court in March last year on the Sassa issue, they in effect prevented mass scale disaster in this country. Millions of South Africans would have had their livelihoods endangered, and we really have these organisations to thank for averting the crisis.”

He hoped the National Director of Public Prosecutions would take the matter forward. “Currently, we have an acting NDPP following the Constitutional Court ruling declaring the appointment of Shaun Abrahams invalid. We hope that whoever is going to be appointed in this position, is someone who has integrity, and who is up to task of acting firmly and speedily on the outcomes of the judgement.”

The Independent on Saturday