Disgraced former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini is back in public office. She’s the new chairperson of the Social Housing Regulatory Authority interim board.
The surprise appointment by the minister of human settlements, water and sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, comes after months of speculation that Dlamini — who resigned from Parliament in June after being dropped from the Cabinet by President Cyril Ramaphosa — was to receive a diplomatic post.
Dlamini, the president of the ANC Women’s League, takes control of the housing board with effect from November 1.
Sisulu has made a series of new board appointments at the authority and other entities that fall under her housing and water ministries since she took office and is expected to make an announcement on their composition next week.
The housing board was established in 2010 in terms of the Social Housing Act to invest in and regulate social housing for people earning between R1 500 and R15 000 a month. With a budget of just under R1-billion, the agency co-ordinates the delivery of state social housing projects around the country.
Dlamini was appointed a month after being cleared by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane of lying to Parliament about the social grants debacle in 2016.
In her ruling on a complaint laid in 2017 by Democratic Alliance MP Bridget Masango, Mkhwebane said she could not make a finding on the allegation that Dlamini had misled Parliament in her 2016 budget speech. Dlamini had told Parliament the South African Social Security Agency was ready to take over payment of social grants from Cash Paymaster Services.
It was not.
Last September, the Constitutional Court ruled that Dlamini had behaved recklessly and negligently during the grants crisis and held her personally liable for 20% of the legal costs of the action brought by two public-interest nongovernmental organisations. It also asked the National Prosecuting Authority to investigate whether she should be charged for perjury.
Dlamini was appointed as minister in the presidency for women by Ramaphosa in his first Cabinet reshuffle after being appointed to replace Jacob Zuma in February last year.
But she did not make the cut for Cabinet after this year’s May national and provincial elections.
In September the DA wrote to Ramaphosa threatening him with legal action if he appointed Dlamini as an ambassador.
Sisulu’s spokesperson, Makhosini Mgitywa, said the minister would make an announcement on board appointments to entities under her mandate at the appropriate time.
Dlamini did not respond to calls from the Mail & Guardian at the time of writing.