Journalists have been met with a blatant refusal by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and her spokesperson to answer any questions around pertinent issues -- such as the R500,000 SABC payment for a hagiographic interview, or the distribution of social grants via Postbank.
Dlamini and her team hosted a press conference at the SABC offices in Johannesburg -- ironically, a day after reports that her ministry paid the broadcaster a hefty sum for a glorified marketing campaign masquerading as a talk-show interview -- to brag about the achievements of grant-receiving school pupils who excelled in matric.
Journalists from various media organisations, who waited until the formalities had concluded, were stonewalled or deflected on multiple occasions by Dlamini's spokesperson, Lumka Oliphant.
The SABC commission the show. They have full say on who comes onto the show. I get a salary from the SABC. DSD deals with the SABC. My producers get a directive and I research and do a show. Please speak to the SABC and not the most famous person...ME...in the story.— Anele Mdoda (@Anele) January 17, 2018
Oliphant insisted that neither she nor the minister would answer any questions not relating to "the event" – referring to the matrics being paraded as evidence of Dlamini's department's "success".
On Wednesday, Daily Maverick reported that the department had paid the broadcaster R500,000 to host an "interview" with Dlamini on SABC3's "Real Talk With Anele". Hosted by Anele Mdoda, the interview focused on Dlamini's life story and ignored any pertinent questions about her conduct or performance as a minister.
Oh and DAILY MAVERICK. Do that thing you always say you do well. Journalism, like actually researching things. Sending texts and gossip is not investigative journalism. Sanu ndiqela ishit. Understanding how tv works would be the first step here. Keep my name out your damn rubbish— Anele Mdoda (@Anele) January 17, 2018
Since the minister and her spokesperson refused to take questions, let alone answer them, here are a few things we would like to know from Dlamini:
- During the press briefing, Oliphant said the department's initiatives are aimed at "investing in human capital"; but it spent R500,000 on a two-hour marketing campaign for you. Oliphant then admitted in a response to the Daily Maverick that your department has transferred more than R5-million to the SABC for similar purposes. Would it not be more beneficial to invest that money into the human capital of this country, rather than into maintaining your reputation?
- According to the Mail & Guardian, your former full-time advisor Sipho Shezi reportedly filed an affidavit with the High Court in Pretoria alleging that you attempted to "thwart a Constitutional Court judgment by continuing with a contract for as many years as possible with CPS". What would you say to that?
- A day after Cyril Ramaphosa was announced as ANC president, you held a press conference saying the ANC had failed "ordinary women". Are you now worried that, with your clear support for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and President Jacob Zuma, that your job may be on the line? Does the ANCWL categorically support the ANC's choice of president, and will you work with Ramaphosa now?
- The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will for the first time make electronic payments to social-grant beneficiaries through its new corporate Postbank account in February. Are all mechanisms in place to ensure a smooth process? What progress has been made so far in finding a replacement for Cash Paymaster Services?