Ndabeni-Abrahams and Manana called to order over 'lunch and drinks photo'
The ANC's deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has reprimanded communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and a former deputy minister, Mduduzi Manana, after a picture of the two ANC NEC (national executive committee) members having lunch at Manana's home circulated on social media.
“The picture of them having lunch with drinks on the table appears clumsy for us because we have called everyone to stay at home,” said an NEC member who did not want to be named.
The NEC is the highest organ of the ANC between national conferences and has the authority to lead the organisation, says the ANC's website.
Duarte issued a message to all NEC members calling on them to show leadership in adhering to lockdown regulations and not to flaunt opulent living and consumption of non-essential substances during this period.
The NEC source said all NEC members received the message from Duarte so that no-one else “makes the same blunder”. At least four NEC members independently confirmed receiving Duarte's warning.
Duarte's message reads: “Our national effort to contain and slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus is based on united action and social solidarity: 'Protect yourself, defend each other, let’s do this together!'
“This has required drastic measures that result in hardship for all, most especially the working class and poor. Let us lead by example and demonstrate political consciousness and sensitivity in our conduct and communication, especially on social media,” she said.
Duarte continued: “Photos of opulent living and consumption of non-essential substances should be avoided. We must be seen to lead in both the letter and spirit of the national lockdown.”
Manana had captioned the picture posted on his Instagram account: “It was great to host a former colleague and dear sister Cde Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on her way back from executing critical essential services.”
But the lunch, which featured four other people, appeared to have been in violation of lockdown regulations — a criminal offence.
Ndabeni-Abrahams did not pick up her phone when called on Tuesday. She told TimesLIVE via at text message that she was busy with departmental work and had forwarded questions to her departmental media team.
Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko could not be reached on her phone and had not replied to a WhatsApp message sent to her.
Contacted for comment, ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said he would check the authenticity of the text but had not done so at the time of publishing.
This is a developing story.