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Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams blocks Phumzile van Damme after SABC 'secret resignations' probe

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams blocked DA MP Phumzile van Damme after a blame game regarding 'secret resignations' at the SABC. File photo.
Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams blocked DA MP Phumzile van Damme after a blame game regarding 'secret resignations' at the SABC. File photo.
Image: GCIS

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has 99 problems, and entertaining DA MP Phumzile van Damme on Twitter is probably the least of them, as the blocking suggests.

On Monday, the DA's shadow minister of communication was “sobbing” after Ndabeni-Abrahams blocked her, following a push for an investigation from the official opposition party regarding “secret resignations” at the SABC.

Secret resignation

The DA demanded a probe into SABC board member Bernadette Muthien's alleged secret resignation and possible looming retrenchments of staff at the public broadcaster.

According to SABC News, the broadcaster plans to retrench about 600 employees and let go of 1,200 freelancers to try to reduce its salary bill by R700m.

The communications and digital technologies committee sat for two days, Monday and Tuesday, to discuss the fate of hundreds of employees whose jobs are on the line.

Ndabeni-Abrahams to blame 

On Monday, Van Damme blamed Ndabeni-Abrahams for keeping the matter under the radar.

According to Van Damme, Muthien resigned last year without a word sent to the committee. She alleged that Ndabeni-Abrahams knew about this but failed to communicate the resignation.

“The DA has it on good authority that SABC board member  Bernadette Muthien resigned last month,” said Van Damme in a statement.

“The DA has been reliably informed that both President Cyril Ramaphosa and minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams are aware of her resignation. Despite this knowledge, the minister, who ordinarily informs parliament of resignations from the entities for which she is responsible, has not informed the committee.”

Failure to communicate

Van Damme said  it was Ndabeni-Abrahams' job to make the rest of the committee aware of such changes, and her failure to do so was yet another example of disdain for parliament.

“It is unclear what the reasons for Muthien’s resignation are. The DA will request that she be invited for an exit interview to disclose whether there are any matters parliament needs to be aware of that may have caused her resignation.

“History has shown that once resignations from the SABC board begin, it usually means the beginning of strife at the public broadcaster,” she said.


Ndabeni-Abraham was obviously displeased with Van Damme’s statement, and resolved to block her on Twitter.

DA MP Cameron Mackenzie also caught a block by association.

“Both opposition MPs in charge of conducting oversight over her department. I reckon we should forget about getting Christmas cards,” Van Damme joked.  


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