DA will go to court to stop 'reckless' Bathabile Dlamini from becoming an ambassador

16 September 2019 - 13:43 By ANDISIWE MAKINANA
Bathabile Dlamini was ordered by a court to pay 20% of the costs incurred by the Black Sash and Freedom Under Law in protracted social-grants litigation. 'Her conduct was reckless and grossly negligent,' the court said. File photo.
Bathabile Dlamini was ordered by a court to pay 20% of the costs incurred by the Black Sash and Freedom Under Law in protracted social-grants litigation. 'Her conduct was reckless and grossly negligent,' the court said. File photo.
Image: Sunday Times/Alaister Russell

The DA has warned President Cyril Ramaphosa against appointing former cabinet minister Bathabile Dlamini into any diplomatic position, threatening to sue if he goes ahead with the rumoured plans to appoint the former minister.

DA lawyers wrote to Ramaphosa on Friday amid media reports that Dlamini would be appointed into South Africa's foreign service as an ambassador for the country.

They cited international relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor's response to DA MP Darren Bergman's parliamentary question on whether Dlamini was being considered by the president as an ambassador.

Pandor said she did not appoint ambassadors and said Ramaphosa would announce a new ambassador at an appropriate time.

She said, “but seeing that I'm smiling, I'm sure you know why I'm smiling”, which some interpreted as an indication that Dlamini would get a diplomatic posting.

The letter from Minde Schapiro & Smith Inc argues that Dlamini's possible appointment as a diplomat concerned the DA because “it would seem ambassador positions are reserved for those politicians who have failed their country and who have been proven to be guilty of misconduct, inter alia, during their term of service in high executive office”.

The lawyers called on Ramaphosa, who has constitutional powers to appoint ambassadors, to “apply his mind rationally”.

They referred him to a constitutional court finding in the Black Sash Trust (Freedom Under Law Intervening) vs Minister of Social Development and others case of 2018, in which it was revealed Dlamini had withheld information. The court ordered her, in her personal capacity, to pay 20% of the costs incurred by the Black Sash and Freedom Under Law in protracted social-grants litigation.

“At best for her, her conduct was reckless and grossly negligent,” the court said at the time.

An inquiry headed by Judge Bernard Ngoepe found Dlamini had misled the court to protect herself from the consequences of her behaviour.

“When we consider that diplomats in the employ of the South African foreign service are required to represent the president and people of South Africa, and to, inter alia, advance South African interests and values, yet the constitutional court specifically found that Bathabile Dlamini’s conduct flew in the face of the values that underpin the constitution. It is evident she is not suited to hold the office of a diplomat,” read the letter.

The DA wishes to point out to you that in light of the above, the appointment of Bathabile Dlamini would constitute an irrational, unconstitutional and untoward decision,” it said.

The law firm reminded Ramaphosa that the exercise of all public power, including those involving foreign affairs, was subject to constitutional scrutiny by the courts.

"Likewise, it is the DA’s view that any appointment by the president of any government official that is not rational would be invalid and subject to being set aside by the courts.

“We therefore request that you urgently provide us with confirmation that you will not appoint Bathabile Dlamini in any diplomatic position in the employ of the South African foreign service. We further wish to inform you that our client intends to embark on litigation should you not confirm the above,” read the letter. 


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