President Cyril Ramaphosa has summoned Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams amid controversy surrounding her visit to former deputy minister Mduduzi Manana’s home over the weekend.
Speaking to journalists in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Ramaphosa said he had seen the pictures showing Ndabeni-Abrahams having a meal with Manana and other individuals.
He said, “I have asked her to come and see me, so she is going to come and see me and I am going to have a discussion with her about the impact of visuals like those on what we are trying to do.”
‘Social distancing is important’
The President added, “We are trying to instil a clear message to all our people that social distancing is important. Let us stay at home, let us not be going around with visitations and if you have to, it must be work-related.”
Manana posted the images on Instagram over the weekend, but deleted them soon afterwards. Nevertheless, screenshots emerged on Twitter on Monday.
He captioned the pictures, “It was great to host a former colleague and dear sister comrade Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on her way back from executing critical and services required for the effective functioning of our country during the nationwide lockdown.”
Opposition leaders soon accused Ndabeni-Abrahams of violating the COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
Ndabeni-Abrahams ‘must set an example’
Democratic Alliance (DA) MP and shadow communications minister Phumzile van Damme tweeted, “[Ndabeni-Abrahams] is a leader and must set an example. I hope [Ramaphosa] takes strong action against her.
“While MPs (she is one) are considered an essential service, visiting Mdu Manana (he is not a public representative) does NOT constitute the discharging of a duty related to her office. She mustn’t even try it with that excuse.”
One South Africa Movement leader Mmusi Maimane added, “Eita @CyrilRamaphosa, we can’t have favourites doing as they please. This virus does not care who is a minister and who is not.
“How is it that some see it fit to violate lockdown regulations to have dinner with their exiled colleagues? Can you ask them at close range?”
In a leaked letter to African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC) members, ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte also called for “sensitivity” on social media. Manana is an NEC member.
Duarte wrote, “Let us lead by example and demonstrate political consciousness and sensitivity in our conduct and communication, especially on social media.
“Photos of opulent living and consumption of non-essential substances should be avoided. We must be seen to lead in both the letter and spirit of the national lockdown.”