Yesterday Mduduzi Manana posted a photo of himself having lunch with his family. Nothing out of the ordinary, expect there in the photo was none other than the minister of communications and digital technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

The photo has since been removed from Instagram, but of course, this is the internet and nothing is ever really deleted.

Considering South Africa is on lockdown and folks are not permitted to leave their homes except to get essential goods, render an essential service or seek medical advice, Ndabeni-Abrahams’ appearance at lunch with a friend kicked up a fuss.

So much so that President Cyril Ramaphosa called a meeting with Ndabeni-Abrahams on Tuesday evening. This morning we’ve learned that meeting didn’t go well for the minister at all.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa has placed Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on special leave for two months – one month of which will be unpaid,” reads a statement from the Presidency.

The statement reveals that Ramaphosa accepted Ndabeni-Abrahams’ apology for the violation of the rules, but was “unmoved by mitigating factors she tendered”.

In a statement made while the local internet was furious, Manana said that Ndabeni-Abrahams was collecting personal protective equipment from him at his residence.

Whether or not that is the case is besides the point. The minister is aware of the regulations in place. In fact, she wrote the one that forces us to have a link to on our website.

Had this been anybody else and they were stopped by police, they would be facing a serious fine or behind bars right now.

It’s something Ramaphosa made clear in his statement regarding the incident.

“The nation-wide 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,” said Ramaphosa.

“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,” the president added.

The presidency has also said that the “law should take its course” as related to allegations the minister violated lockdown regulations.

Whether anybody will lay charges against the minister is yet to be determined but we have a feeling that charges will be laid before long.

The speed with which the presidency reacted to this matter is commendable. It also presents a teachable moment and the lesson is rather simple:


[Image – CC BY ND 2.0 GovernmentZA]