Professor of politics at the University of North West Barry Hanyane says former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s conduct is tantamount to state capture.
Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday found Dlamini guilty of perjury. The case relates to her testimony at a Constitutional Court-established inquiry into her role in the 2017 social grant crisis.
The inquiry headed by Judge Bernard Ngoepe investigated whether Dlamini should be held personally liable for the costs of the South African Social Security Agency debacle.
The judge found that Dlamini had been evasive when questions were put to her during the inquiry.
Magistrate Khumalo handed down this judgment:
Professor Hanyane says Dlamini appears to have misused her powers for her benefit.
“It can easily be classified as part of the state capture debacle. Just because it doesn’t include the Guptas, it doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t bear the hallmark of state capture. Our understanding of the definition of state capture as much as this varies in interpretation would suggest that some measure of influence, especially to those who are closer to power for the sake of financial and material gain might have taken place. So, it’s interesting to see whether further investigations, in this case, are warranted.”
The judgment could see the former Social Development Minister behind bars. Magistrate Betty Khumalo found that Dlamini lied about being in several workstreams meetings and that her evidence was contradictory to that of SASSA’s Zodwa Mvulane.
Former SASSA CEO Thokozani Magwaza also testified in court that the workstreams accounted directly to the former Minister instead of SASSA’s EXCO.
In December last year, Dlamini’s application for acquittal in her perjury case was dismissed. The State is calling for direct imprisonment for the former Minister despite the Defence’s argument for a fine. It says the impact of Dlamini’s conviction should reverberate to Parliament and the Union Buildings, sending a strong message to public officials about accountability.
Magistrate Khumalo will now sentence the African National Congress (ANC) Women’s League President on the first of April.
Dlamini has a previous fraud conviction after she entered into a plea bargain with the National Prosecuting Authority, following her conviction along with 13 other MPs in Parliament’s Travelgate scandal of 2006. Dlamini was fined R120 000 or five years imprisonment and a further five years’ imprisonment suspended conditionally for five years for defrauding Parliament of R254 000 in service benefits and/or mileage claims.
Dlamini is still a member of the ANC’s powerful National Executive Committee.