The value of an oath
‘I, Bathabile Dlamini, do hereby swear to be faithful to the Republic of South Africa and undertake before those assembled here to hold my office as minister with honour and dignity; to respect and uphold the Constitution and all other laws of the Republic of South Africa; to be a true and faithful counsellor; not to divulge directly or indirectly any matters which are entrusted to me under secrecy; and to perform the duties of my office conscientiously and to the best of my ability.”
Dlamini took this oath when she became minister of social development. The Constitutional Court ruled in 2014 that the social grant payment contract with Cash Paymaster Services was invalid and should be scrapped, and that the department should restart the process for a new contract.
Three years later, we have about 17 million grant recipients who are uncertain that their monthly grants will be paid come April 1.
We have a situation where the department is seeking to extend the very same contract deemed invalid by the highest court of the land.
We also have a situation where Dlamini’s department and its subsidiary, the SA Social Security Agency, are contemplating using money vans to pension pay points, a prospect that heist syndicates would relish.
As the crisis has unfolded, Dlamini has been contemptuous – of Parliament, the public and her own Cabinet colleagues. She has misled South Africa in the most brazen way. In recent weeks she has literally ducked and dived when called upon to account for her ineptitude and lack of caring.
This self-made crisis brings into question whether Dlamini has upheld her oath of office. Has she been faithful to the Republic of South Africa? Has she held her office as minister with honour and dignity? Has she upheld the Constitution? Of course not. Her disregard for the Constitutional Court order, her treating of the vulnerable with indignity and her placing of public money at the mercy of a powerful business empire are a clear indication that she has failed to live up to her oath.
She knows that there will be no consequences for her flagrant disregard for her oath of office. And so we ask of her and the president: What is the value of an oath?