Bathabile Dlamini’s resignation as a member of Parliament draws to a close a political career characterised by incompetence, arrogance and the near collapse of the social grant system, which would have negatively impacted on millions of the most vulnerable in South Africa..
Her eight-page resignation missive marks a continuation of an ignoble reign, in which she scapegoats various players for her failure as a minister and for the role she played in social grants scandal which placed some 17-million social grant recipients at risk.
In it, she complains about the ANC’s 54th conference at Nasrec, whose outcome she claims shows that the party was not ready for a female leader, how it failed to act against those who hauled the ANC to court in the run-up to the meeting and how there are some in the party who believe they “own” the president or the secretary general.
While Dlamini’s letter seemingly comes across as an attempt to unburden herself about what she views as the failings of the ANC, it is also an attempt to rewrite the true history of the fiasco at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and exonerate herself from the very central and damaging role she played, evidenced in a number of court judgments against her.
The letter — which marked her last ditch attempt to put forward her perspective — was rejected by the highest court in the land.
She accuses former Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe of attempting to usurp her powers, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan of being in cahoots with banks and the media of judging her unfairly. She took aim at the treasury and her own officials as well as officials at Sassa, alleging that the wives of MPs benefitted from the Sassa scandal.
The Constitutional Court held Dlamini personally liable for costs in the case, ordering her to pay 20% of the costs of non-governmental organisations Black Sash and Freedom Under Law. She does not explain in her resignation letter why she had not acted on the initial court judgment which deemed the CPS contract to deliver social grants illegal, which culminated in the crisis around how the payments would be made during the 2017 scandal.
Instead, she paints herself as a victim, mirroring the conduct of her erstwhile political master, former president Jacob Zuma.
Dlamini’s exit from Parliament is by no means a departure from the political stage. She remains a member of the ANC’s national executive committee, its powerful national working committee and the president of the ANC Women’s League.