The Democratic Alliance said it was “astounded” by allegations that the Department of Social Development (DSD) had paid the SABC half a million rand to do a “fluff” interview with Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
Earlier on Wednesday, reports emerged that the department had paid the South African Broadcasting Corporation R500 000 to hold a two-hour interview with the minister.
According to Daily Maverick, the interview was masterminded by her spokesperson Lumka Oliphant, who was also interviewed. and was an attempt to “humanise” and “white-wash” Dlamini using public funds.
The interview was conducted by Anele Mdoda, host of the SABC 3 Real Talk with Anele.
Oliphant is reported as saying the department was entitled to pay for interviews conducted by the media and that this was done through the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).
This was done as a way to market and advertise the department as well as the minister.
The DA Shadow Minister of Social Development Bridget Masango in a statement said if there was any truth to the allegations, Dlamini must personally pay back the money.
“It is shocking that the DSD had the audacity to supposedly use public money for an interview. The DSD is mandated to serve the poor, needy and vulnerable within our society, it is not mandated to use taxpayers’ money to make floundering Ministers look good.
“Instead of improving her tarnished image, the Minister should be focussing on ensuring a smooth transition when the PostBank finally takes over the electronic payment of social grants on February 1, 2018.”
Masango added: “The DA will now submit a range of parliamentary questions to get to the bottom of this likely abuse of taxpayers’ money. The public deserves to know if the DSD did indeed pay for the interview. If that is the case the minister must pay back the money personally.
“It is clear that Minister Dlamini, like the rest of the ruling ANC, has lost touch with reality, the reality that 17 million South Africans depend on social grants.” IOL