Editorial: Can we spell accountability?

Public Service Minister Faith Muthambi was supposed to appear before a parliamentary committee looking into claims that she flew 30 family members on a junket and that she hired scores of relatives into her department. She didn’t turn up for the hearing. No explanation, nothing.

How reminiscent of when she was communications minister, responsible for the SABC (then ruled by the egregious Hlaudi Motsoeneng), and the broadcaster was being probed by Parliament – Muthambi didn’t turn up.

How reminiscent, too, of when Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini was required to answer to Parliament for the social grants debacle – and she simply didn’t turn up. She failed to arrive, a second time, for a second scheduled meeting with the relevant committee, and couldn’t even be bothered to send her deputy.

And that’s all a bit like what happened this week with Dlamini, who promised to “clarify” issues to do with social grants and the controversial payment system involved. This she was to do at a briefing at a resort in Limpopo, to which journalists dragged themselves for a stated start at 10am. But the minister didn’t show up. After two hours of waiting, the journalists left.

What a triumph of public relations for the embattled minister of an embattled department.

Other ministers have done the same, for example Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba (formerly minister of home affairs), who failed to arrive at a parliamentary committee hearing into the matter of how the Guptas got their South African citizenship fast-tracked.

Accountability? What’s that?

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