Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will not support calls for the removal of embattled Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini‚ saying only President Jacob Zuma is in a position to evaluate a minister’s performance.
Ramaphosa was answering a wide range of questions in the National Assembly yesterday‚ including on the social grant crisis facing Dlamini and her department.
He encouraged MPs to allow the department and ministry time to resolve the problems at the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa).
The entire social grant debacle was being dealt with by the Constitutional Court, Ramaphosa said.
“Members of the executive are evaluated by the president, who appoints them. The president evaluates the deputy president and members of the executive on an ongoing basis.
“In his hand rests the power to appoint and do otherwise,” he said.
“It belongs to the realm of presidential prerogative and it’s the president only who can do so.”
His response was prompted by questions from DA leader Mmusi Maimane and UDM leader Bantu Holomisa.
“There is a point as South Africans to stand on the side of the poor. Would you support the call to say Minister Dlamini should in fact resign for this crisis over social grants?” Maimane asked.
Holomisa said Dlamini’s performance during a Scopa meeting earlier this week had gone beyond undermining the National Assembly and bringing the executive and country into disrepute.
“Would you advise the president to consider evaluating [her] fitness to hold office?” Holomisa asked.
“The same woman who, when we asked about deductions [of social grants]‚ said she was investigating, yet it’s part of the agreement with CPS. “When are you evaluating her?” he wanted to know.
Maimane also asked Ramaphosa how many times he had arranged with Dlamini to appear before the portfolio committee on social development since his appointment in May 2014 as the leader of government business‚ responsible for arranging attendance of cabinet members.
Ramaphosa said in terms of the constitution‚ members of the cabinet were accountable collectively and individually to parliament for the exercise of powers and performance of their functions.
“The National Assembly and parliament have much more overriding powers than the leader of government business, because here we’re talking about what the constitution sets out,” Ramaphosa said.
“The constitution gives us as parliament the power to make members of the executive accountable to us as a collective.”
He said the executive remained committed to ensuring that as a collective they accounted “regularly and effectively” to parliament.