It has been the proverbial annus horribilis for Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams — from breaking national regulations to not paying R213.3-million in workers’ mandated benefits.
The year began with the news of Ndabeni-Abrahams allegedly going on a merry jaunt with her husband, Thato Abrahams, to Switzerland and the United States. Taxpayers reportedly footed the “honeymoon” trip.
She said in a February statement: “Mr Abrahams had accompanied me on an official trip, in line with the ministerial handbook.”
In addition to failing to respond to questions for weeks, Ndabeni-Abrahams was unable to chart how the switch to digital terrestrial television will come into affect by March next year.
Another failure under her belt is that the South African Post Office couldn’t pay R213-million to medical aid and pension funds, despite deducting these contributions from its employees.
In August, the Democratic Alliance accused Ndebani-Abrahams of flouting procurement processes at the post office “by introducing a businessman and chairperson of private equity firm, Convergence Partners, Andile Ngcaba, to [the post office’s] executives in an alleged bid to partner on a highly lucrative R2.1-billion e-commerce platform”.
The SABC, which is facing crippling retrenchments of 400 of its workers, posted a net loss in November of R511-million.
That Ndabeni-Abrahams was suspended by Ramaphosa for two months in April for breaking lockdown regulations on her visit to former ANC MP Mduduzi Manana’s home was an apt metaphor for the year she and her department have had.