The value of an oath

CityPress - - Voices -

‘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?

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