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22 Nov 2019 00:00
Qualified: Bathabile Dlamini oversaw the social grants payment fiasco. Now she’s in charge of the social housing authority. (Oupa Nkosi)
Parliamentarians have placed Minisister Lindiwe Sisulu’s appointment of Bathabile Dlamini as interim board chairperson of the Social Housing Regulatory Authority under the microscope.
The minister of human settlements, water and sanitation, who put Dlamini in the job on November 5, has 10 days to respond to parliamentary questions on her decision (as well as appointments to other entities under her control) from Democratic Alliance human settlements spokesperson Emma Powell.
She has asked Sisulu to provide details of the selection criteria used to appoint Dlamini, who sat on the selection committee, who the other nominees were and a copy of the report they had submitted to Sisulu and on which she had based the appointment.
Powell also asked that Sisulu provide Parliament with the specific competencies Dlamini holds that qualified her as a specialist in social housing, one of the legislative requirements of being a board member.
Dlamini’s appointment is among a series made by Sisulu at the housing entity this month. It follows her appointment of a national rapid response task team with a R13.9-million salary bill to act as a troubleshooting unit for her ministry.
Last week, the Mail & Guardian reported that a whistleblower had laid complaints about the appointments with the public protector and the Public Service Commission.
The complainant claimed that Sisulu had made the appointments in a bid to bankroll her campaign for the ANC presidency in 2022.
READ MORE: Complaint: Sisulu in bid for presidency
Last week Sisulu also appointed a new interim board for the troubled Housing Development Agency, which had been placed under administration by her predecessor, Nomaindia Mfeketo, over an alleged collapse of corporate governance and a sexual misconduct scandal.
Sisulu has also appointed an interim board at the Estate Agency Affairs Board since taking office.
Powell said that once Sisulu had responded, she would lay a formal complaint with the public protector and the Public Service Commission about a lack of “legislative and procedural compliance in making this appointment”. She said the DA would also consider challenging the legality of the appointment on the basis that it was not reasonable or rational.
Thami ka Plaatjie, Sisulu’s adviser and the chairperson of her new national rapid response task team, this week demanded that the Mail & Guardian retract last week’s story, saying that the structure was an “effective early warning mechanism” for the housing and water and sanitation departments and the ministry.
He said the task team would co-operate with an investigation by the public protector. It had consulted Sisulu and the ministry’s legal team and would ask the courts to redress the “violation of our rights as individuals and the deliberate aspersions cast on the person of Minister Sisulu”.
Ka Plaatjie said the task team’s role was to “forge mutually beneficial relationships between communities and government so as together the lives of especially ordinary people are changed”. Team members were sent to the nine provinces, where they acted as troubleshooters.
He added that since the task team was established in September, it has intervened in three municipalities with water shortages — Mogalakwena in Limpopo, Makana in the Eastern Cape and Maluti-a-Phofung in the Free State. It has also provided destitute families in Durban and Pietermaritzburg with decent shelter.
In a radio interview, Sisulu’s spokesperson, Makhosini Mgitywa, defended Dlamini’s appointment, saying her experience in social development would be valuable in addressing social housing issues. “Social housing has to be regulated so that it is not cheated, so that it does not lose money unnecessarily. We think that she is a person who can help us with solving the social housing issues in the country, given her background in social development.”
Mgitywa said that as the Social Housing Regulatory Authority board chairperson, Dlamini would be responsible for policy issues. “She remains a member of the national executive committee of the ANC. She is the president of the Women’s League of the ANC and we have to accept the fact that there is a deployment committee of the ANC.”
Read more from Paddy Harper
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