Opposition parties have slammed the decision by the SA Police Service (SAPS) to offer presidential protection service to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
They have described this decision as illegal, unconstitutional and “an appalling abuse of police resources”.
Zakhele Mbhele, DA shadow minister of police, said Dlamini-Zuma didn’t hold a position in South Africa’s government and she was not a visiting head of state.
“She’s just an ANC party official,” he said.
Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota shared similar sentiments, saying: “Dlamini-Zuma is neither a state president candidate, MP or in a statutory political office that entitles her to this special privilege provided only for senior state officials.”
Dlamini’s VIP convoy accompanied her to Sasolburg, Free State, to an ANC event, sparking questions about why taxpayers were still paying for her security as she was no longer the chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The SAPS, which is in charge of the Presidential Protection Unit (PPU), argued that Dlamini-Zuma was under threat, thus having to protect her.
Major General Sally de Beer explained that in terms of the PPU’s mandate, protection is provided to the president and deputy president of the Republic of South Africa, former presidents, foreign heads of state and their spouses.
“The chairperson of the African Union is afforded courtesies given by Dirco [department of international relations and cooperation] with the status of president and while serving in that capacity, Dlamini-Zuma was provided protection according to this prescript.
“Further protection is being provided to the former African Union chairperson informed by the outcome of a security assessment conducted and ongoing investigations in relation to threats directed at her personally.”
“For security reasons, the SAPS will not discuss or deliberate on any details of the security afforded to Dr Dlamini-Zuma, or in relation to the mentioned threat and security assessment.
“That in itself would constitute a breach of security,” added acting national commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane.
However, two weeks ago, the department of international relations and cooperation confirmed to the Sunday Times two weeks ago it had paid for Dlamini-Zuma’s blue-light convoy and security detail as a “courtesy” she had to use while doing party work since her return to the country on March 15.
The services were supposed to be extended to her only until the end of March.
Mbhele said the DA will submit parliamentary questions to Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to ask him to justify this costly VIP protection for a person who is plainly not a VIP and for him to explain these “threats”.
“If public money is to be spent on protecting an ANC official, then the public must be informed of what serious ‘threats’ exist against Dlamini-Zuma, to justify expensive protection.
“The SAPS would be required to keep a detailed record of these threats, and Mbalula must make this known to Parliament,” he said.
“President Jacob Zuma and Mbalula must be brought before the court to explain this blatant abuse of taxpayers’ money,” Lekota added.
The Freedom Front Plus also joined the outcry yesterday.
Speaking to News24, party spokesperson Pieter Groenewald said if Dlamini-Zuma feels her life is in danger she should avoid areas where she feels unsafe.
“Dlamini-Zuma is not a public official and is therefore not obliged to attend meetings. If she insists on attending meetings, the ANC and its MK veterans should protect her at their own expense,” Groenewald said.
The blue-light privilege story comes at a time when Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa are seen as frontrunners for the governing party’s top job to succeed Jacob Zuma when he steps down in December as ANC president.
Mbhele said by this, “Dlamini-Zuma is proving herself to be another Zuma from the start; using state resources and public money with no regard for the rules.
“This smacks of a public-sponsored VIP status to boost Dlamini-Zuma’s stature as she campaigns within the ANC. The DA expects answers from Mbalula, and South Africa deserves to know why an ANC official is receiving VIP protection at public expense, with no justification made known yet.”