Bathabile Dlamini in no position to claim victimhood – Researcher

Former minister says she felt 'raped'

Bathabile Dlamini in no position to claim victimhood - researcher

13 June 2019

A prominent academic says former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini is in no position to claim victimhood, after Dlamini recently likened the criticism she received for the Sassa debacle to being "raped".

Dlamini resigned as a Member of Parliament on Tuesday after failing to make the cut in President Cyril Ramaphosa's newly formed Cabinet.

In her resignation letter, Dlamini said she had been demonised and made the scapegoat of the Sassa scandal.

In an interview with EWN on Wednesday, Dlamini said: "You know when you are undressed and raped? That is the feeling I had."

'Doesn't recognise her own conduct'

Lisa Vetten, who has worked in the area of violence against women for over two decades as a counsellor, paralegal, trainer and researcher, described Dlamini's use of the term "rape" as "a little melodramatic".

"It's quite clear that Dlamini has a sense of having been used and mistreated by men in the ANC and being exposed during the Sassa debacle," Vetten, a PhD Fellow at the Wits City Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, told News24.

"But the difficulty with Dlamini is that she doesn't recognise or acknowledge the impact of her own conduct on others.

"She emphatically should have been under close scrutiny in relation to Sassa. She's certainly not in a position where she can claim that she was being victimised in any way.

"She doesn't take responsibility for, or even think about, the impact of her actions. Considering how many poor women's lives her department affected, things certainly did not get any better under her tenure.

"So, while she may feel misused by men in the ANC and others, it's blithe of her [to claim being victimised], considering how her actions impacted on the livelihood of poor women."

'I never touch alcohol'

Dlamini, who was flagged by the ANC's own integrity committee, also had damning Constitutional Court findings against her. The court asked the National Prosecuting Authority to investigate whether it should charge her with perjury for her comments about the social grants saga, News24 reported.

Dlamini told EWN that she wasn't bitter about resigning. "I'm a little bit angry about those who said I am bitter, because that is a very painful [thing to say]."

Dlamini said she left Parliament because, as leader of the ANC Women's League (ANCWL), she would be "more fruitful outside, mobilising women on very pertinent issues".

Also in the interview with EWN's Clement Manyathela, Dlamini denied claims that she was an excessive drinker, claiming that she was epileptic and had never touched alcohol.

"As much as I was fighting, saying that I don’t drink, and everyone was accusing me of drinking, I politicised the issue because we were dealing with the issues of alcohol and drug abuse, but I also had to look into myself and do self-introspection," Dlamini said.

In April 2016, Dlamini was accused of being drunk at the opening of a drug-centre in Port Elizabeth.

When heckled by opposition parties in Parliament, Dlamini said she "did not know alcohol", News24 reported.

" Andibazi utywala mna [I don’t know alcohol]. I do not drink at all. People who know me, know I don’t drink," she said.

SA 'not ready' for woman president

Dlamini also said that South Africa was not ready for a female president, despite the ANCWL's long-standing stance on the matter.

Describing the role of women in the history of the struggle, Dlamini said: "Having the ANC behaving that way [i.e. not electing a female leader] says the whole of South Africa is not ready to be led by a woman."

Dlamini said, if this were to change, "we must start now".

News24 earlier reported that Dlamini, in her resignation letter, had said she was demonised and made the scapegoat of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) scandal.

"I am convinced that our country is far from developing or improving, because there are those among us that have the support of the media, that they mastered the art of demonising some of us and unfortunately they are seen as very committed, clean and innocent when they have shares in some of these institutions," she wrote.