President Cyril Ramaphosa has placed Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on special leave for two months The suspension includes one month of which will be unpaid, the presidency said in a statement on Wednesday.
Her suspension follows social media outrage over an image posted by deputy minster of education Mduduzi Manana of himself and Ndabeni-Abrahams having lunch at his home during a national lockdown.
The picture was posted on Instagram and showed Manana and a group of other people, including Ndabeni-Abrahams, having lunch. The caption of the picture read; “It was great to host a former colleague and dear sister Cde Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on her way back from executing critical and essential services,” the post was captioned.
Citizens posted concerns on social media about Ndabeni-Abrahams’ conduct as a minister who failed to adhere to lockdown regulations. Ramaphosa had summoned Ndabeni-Abrahams to explain her conduct and expressed his disapproval.
“The president expressed his disapproval of the Minister’s actions, which undermine the requirement that all citizens stay at home and save South Africa from the spread of the coronavirus.
The president accepted the minister’s apology for the violation but was unmoved by mitigating factors she tendered,” the presidency said. Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu will act in Ndabeni-Abrahams’ position.
Ramaphosa has told the minister to issue a public apology to the nation. The president said: “The nationwide 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. “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.”
Manana explained on Tuesday that Ndabeni-Abrahams was not at his home for a social visit and was there to collect PP equipment as she was in Fourways and sought the equipment to distribute to learners who needed it.
“On her arrival, my family was having lunch and I courteously invited her to join us. 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 (April 8) at the Menlyn site which our team will be delivering.
“In hindsight, it was irresponsible to post a picture without a clear context and thereby creating the impression that it was a social lunch. For this I profusely apologise,” Manana said.