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Accountability Monitor: Bathabile Dlamini found guilty of perjury

Lie to me once, shame on you, lie to me twice, you’re guilty of perjury! This one’s for you, Bathabile Dlamini. Yesterday, the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court found the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) president and former Cabinet minister guilty of perjury. The court found that she lied under oath during a 2017 inquiry into the social grants saga. Dlamini, then the minister of social development, put millions of SA’s most vulnerable citizens at risk when her department messed around with the service provider responsible for disbursing grants.

Dlamini will know her fate on 1 April: she may be asked to go to prison or pay a fine.

The big question now is whether the ANC’s recently hard-won “step aside rule” will kick in, forcing Dlamini out as president of the ANCWL. If so, there’s a fat paycheck awaiting the next incumbent. It was revealed in court that Dlamini earns R70 000 a month as ANCWL president – oh, plus a cool R40 000 in pension for her ministerial role!

Meanwhile, the Women’s League may face the same fate as the now toothless ANC Youth League. There have been calls for the disbandment of the ANCWL, the Daily Maverick reports, reducing it to a task team. It has already been dissolved in two provinces. 

It is yet another sign of the ANC’s decline as it repeatedly fails to take accountability seriously. This isn’t the first time Dlamini was convicted – she pleaded guilty to fraud in the 2003 Travelgate scandal as an MP. She simply paid a R120 000 fine as part of a plea deal and was later promoted to Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet. The ANC promised in 2004 to take action against MPs involved in Travelgate. That never happened. 

There was perhaps a tad more accountability when Ramaphosa became president: Dlamini was removed from her position as minister of social development and moved to the portfolio for women before being dropped completely from the Cabinet in a reshuffle the following year. But the fact that she’s kept her cushy Women’s League job is shocking. The courts have yet again proven her guilt. Time for the ANC to act or risk being made even more irrelevant. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 10 March  2022. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.