Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams – the young lion who never grew up

When President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams minister of communications last year, there were many howls of protest and sighs of disappointment in the sector.

2020-04-09 07:30:00 AM

We keep producing leaders who do not grow up. They become senior in their parties and in government but they remain the children they were when they entered politics. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams is that person, writes Mondli Makhanya

When President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams minister of communications last year, there were many howls of protest and sighs of disappointment in the sector.

The cries were understandable.This was a ministry that had had to endure Dina Pule, she of the red sole luxury shoes and a penchant for Ben 10s; Faith Muthambi – whose incompetence brought a small Limpopo town to its knees before Jacob Zuma elevated her to Cabinet; and Nomvula Mokonyane, who left the water and sanitation department billions in the red and also had a penchant for Ben 10s.

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The few ministers of substance who served in that portfolio were there for very brief periods before being shuffled off.You would have been forgiven for believing that this ministry had been treated as some kind of dumping ground for incompetents.There was hope that Ramaphosa – who put Mokonyane in the chair in the compromise Cabinet of February 2018 – would treat this portfolio with more seriousness than his predecessor when he fully took on the presidency on his own elected mandate in May 2019.

Then he appointed Ndabeni-Abrahams, previously a multiple-decibel howler who could outshout anyone in a Mediterranean fish market.Whether by design or sleight, an impression was created that Ndabeni-Abrahams was one of the untouchable favourites of the president.

Ndabeni-Abrahams’ record in politics had been less than stellar and she owed her swift rise less to talent, than to calculating the route to the top cleverly.Back in the early years of the Zuma presidency, Ndabeni-Abrahams fell out with the mutinous ANC Youth League leadership under Julius Malema.

Zuma and his coterie tactically saw an opportunity and drew her and some of the growing legion of Malema victims in the youth league leadership onto his side.The reward of a deputy minister’s post came quickly for this new convert, who benefitted from one of Zuma’s early reshuffles in 2011.

Now comfortable as deputy minister of communications and postal services, the formerly ardent Thabo Mbeki fan ensconced herself in the trenches of Nkandla.Even as the dirtiness of the president of the country and governing party unfolded, she was one of those who stood firmly by him – for obvious career reasons.

Her unrestrained nature came through when her former youth league comrades arrived on the Parliamentary benches in 2014, dressed in the red of the newly formed Economic Freedom Fighters.She had scores to settle with her former comrades.Having returned to her post in a slightly reconfigured portfolio, Ndabeni-Abrahams was one of the shock-troops when the ANC had to shamefully defend the stinky affair that was Zuma’s R240 million Nkandla upgrades.

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The images of her and fellow ANC parliamentarians screaming at the opposition parties – mainly the EFF – who were holding a thief to account are still etched in the mind.Those ANC MPs were like possessed members of some religious cult in middle-America.

Ndabeni-Abrahams was right there in the middle of them, loyally protecting the useful idiot (who really thought he was the kingpin) of the state capture project.The came 2017 and, as the song goes, Zajik’ izinto (The wheels turned).The end of the Zuma era was nigh and our rising star had to make fresh calculations.

Was it going to be Cyril Ramaphosa or should she stay with her old crew and support Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma?She calculated well and threw herself into the CR17 campaign, campaigning tirelessly for the man who would the following year become president of the republic.

By the time of the Nasrec conference in December 2017, she was viewed as a key cog in the Ramaphosa machinery and the man himself was said to be impressed by her youthful energy.New vistas were opening for her.It was no surprise then that, even though she didn’t get rewarded immediately when he took office in 2018, she got a full ministry come May 2019.

That’s when the critics howled.She had done nothing in all the years as deputy minister to justify promotion except to give long, self-indulgent and mind-numbing speeches.Talk to anyone who has had to endure those and you might be moved to buy them a very expensive Scotch when Bheki Cele’s booze prohibition time is over, just to help them get over the lingering trauma. The thing was that an area where South Africa had fallen so far behind the developed world, our own peer countries and even the less developed ones, surely needed better brains and firmer hands.

Not only was there a lot of catching up, there was a lot of fixing to be done while doing the catch up.Those who were sympathetic or gave her the benefit of the doubt pointed out that she had begun to mature and become more measured.She would grow into the job where she had been an understudy for a very long time, they said.

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What this missed was who she had been an understudy to and what bad habits she might have picked up from those elements.It was soon to show.The screaming Ndabeni-Abrahams came out, now emboldened by the massive power she had acquired.She battered the boards of the state entities she oversaw and ran interference on matters that were supposed to be far from her exalted throne.

Within her ministry and department there were tales of rule by fear.Whether by design or sleight, an impression was created that she was one of the untouchable favourites of the president.Her power and arrogance, it was said, came from her proximity to Ramaphosa.

She was even moved to deny her God complex in an interview with City Press last weekend, saying she was far from being “God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” that people claim she behaves like.Read:People think that I am God – Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams takes swipe at critics

Many were wishing that her blatantly defying Ramaphosa by breaking the lockdown regulations that have been drummed into South Africans’ ears many times a day for the past two weeks would have heralded the end of her stint in Cabinet.The assumption was that the credibility of Ramaphosa’s so-far solid management of the Covid-19 crisis rested on him treating an errant minister the same way as his security forces were treating ordinary citizens.

The only way forward was the guillotine. Furthermore, he couldn’t risk an entrenchment of the idea that this minister was really untouchable.But this was Ramaphosa.There was never any chance in hell he would do anything so bold as to make an example of one of his most ardent supporters in an ANC terrain where he is not 100% sure of his own footing.

We keep producing leaders who do not grow up. They become senior in their parties and in government but they remain the children they were when they entered politics.After the virus is defeated he will still have to fight intra-party battles, albeit from a stronger position after he has managed to get the nation united behind him.

So this commander-in-chief was not going to leave this able lieutenant lying wounded on this battlefield when he may need her in the next one, where victory is less certain.So he gave her what was essentially a slap on the wrist for an offence that was very severe in these circumstances.

Whether Ndabeni-Abrahams returns to the Cabinet and to her position in two months’ time will be determined by how fast the wheels of the law turn and how much public pressure Ramaphosa can withstand.Criminal charges have been laid against her by others.

Other forms of institutional pressure will be applied on the president not to allow someone who wilfully broke the law and thus violated her oath of office to continue serving in Cabinet.He may still blink, but for now the bigger battle he needs to fight keeps Ndabeni-Abrahams safe.

It may well be that he wants someone else to do that job for him, such is the nature of our president.But this problem is not just Ramaphosa’s alone. It is our collective problem.We keep producing leaders who do not grow up.They become senior in their parties and in government but they remain the children they were when they entered politics.

They chant – and believe – the same slogans they chanted in their student and youth activism.Their belief in the political parties is higher than the belief in the republic, the Constitution and the citizens.Intellectually they remain rooted in ideologies that are obsolete while living comfy personal lives that are ahead of the contemporary.

Then we give them power and the only thing they know to do with it is wield it for the sake of it.Arrogance, self-interest and a superiority complex rule them as they believe the rules and norms of the society are not for them.Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams is that person. She is the young lion who never grew up.

When given the ultimate adult tool – power – she became a danger to herself and all around her.She remains that danger – mainly to our progress as a modern state and 21st century economy. Read more: City Press »

MondliMakhanya1 ,this is so true This article may have the right message but it is irresponsible to generalize, Stellarated apologized is human,and erred.punished now.full stop.Any other thing in the article is bile. MelusiMbeje20 She needs to cease being a drama Queen I do t think it’s a title worth being celebrated

Are we not perhaps insulting innocent children when we compare them to irresponsible 'leaders' I agree people should not loose their identity as individuals. but the moment you are doing this in leadership and public domain what do you think must happen? especially in a position of power and advisors Stella is young sexy and still learning I love stella

Bheki Cele is more of a child than everybody else. Mondli Makhanya is living the yesterday's news It is a good thing that the ANC do not listen to the nasionale pers cabal, when making decisions, we will not be told about our own comrades and their journey by those who are dancing for their saper masquerading as independent views yet serving agendas of their naspers masters

I lost the little respect I had for her I agree 💯 She still young and learning. I hope she was supposed to be with eff, her peers to learn fast. Those ones are driving with 220 per hour on 100 zone With all due respect simply not good enough. Should be replaced with immediate effect. We simply have too many weak ministers in government who are just not good enough to do the job.

Wheeeeee umuntu uzolala ngalo Stella avuke ngalo Stella, can we turn to the next page now and get over with Stella after all she ate Manana's food and didn't steal money, Stella this Stella that Seriously That very true discipline, intelligence, intellectual, foresight, matured, humble and role model is still not in our leaders of today.

Give a person power and their true character will shine through. We are seeing a great number of weak/evil charactered people in SA govt positions. Thanx Mondli, a good article about miss Arrogance, i really hoped she would get a better punishment, but as you explained CR needs her vote. I don't buy it. It's smear campaign against her.

I dont like her attitude and she does not have a basic clue about Geography, to what Grade did she study? Incisive and straight to the point. Quite a well-written piece. I'm so disappointed. They are very irresponsible 😞 Power corrupts and corrupts absolutely Leaders? Gahh...they are feeders Nice R5000 hoodie

Anc ... and here she is visiting and eating breakfast with a convicted woman abuser. And the ANC wonders why they are still looked on with derision even after they ejected Shower-Man. That one is a 1year old baby. .. Agge shem We get what we voted for ... Incompetent , undeserving and useless ! I still insist that most of this so called young leaders who are in their mid or late 40's were not prepared nor mentored to lead. Most of them needs some personal coaches or mentors. However Minister Ronald Lamola is doing very well so far. I admire his emotional intelligence.

These are not leaders at all, they are celebrities, period. Fikile, Stella and Zulu She must get fired stop trying to be relevant... M_Letsholonyane hope ntate Mphahlele who called on your PowerLunch show saying we should forgive Stella “because e sa le ngwana” don’t see this article 🤣😂🤣 Semhle uNono thou 😍

Moemish of The Week Stella is that child lo lo lo ongezwa 'Naughty Cinderella' How do you expect people to grow when there is a starvation of ideology in leadership... Being the Communication minister I remember how she refused the SABC crew to cover a scene in one of the ANC gatherings, Yes she is an untouchable of note, she went as far as covering the camera with her hand....tell me who suppose to protect the journalist?

We all make mistakes fact you haven't been caught doesn't make give you right to be judgemental besides she's been dealt with Another one is Fikile Mbalula. Lol this guy is bias as fuck.... I don't take anything he writes.... Her appointment along with that of Ronald Lamola had me applauding ANC only to realise that praises were too soon.

It is 'do as I say, not as I do' She is acting like a little rich kid that think that she can get away with everything without any consequences. I really feel sorry for minister Ndabeni considering that the pic was posted by themselves. If they had not posted the pic nothing would have been wrong. The lesson for her is that you must never think that if people laugh with you are your friends, they are wolves

Where is the ANCWL to defend Min Stella from attacks.... Why can't we just get top achievers, young CEO's and talented individuals in Government high positions? Lions led by sheep is what it is... Great piece of writing. Should I add that the only thing Stella ever implemented is making a 4IR uniform for herself

Batho ba ANC batena! MfaniseniM Childish indeed shame to those who elected may be they are childish as well. I don’t buy this.The problem is us, not the ‘leaders’.Our collective challenge is that we treat young adults in politics as children and do not hold them accountable for malevolent actions. They therefore learn to believe that rules do not apply to them as politicians & leaders.

My mom calls me for a chat and she( Stella) pops up.. Mom says ''but she's young'' and I go ''that's no excuse and she's older than me'' Mom is silent for a while and then says ''you're right, you'd never do something that stupid''. Umchanile Dyan...ouch!!! She has apologised good people let's give her a chance De Klerk made a public apology was accepted She did not kill anyone 🙏

Let me leave it here. ferialhaffajee Is the opening sentence not a contradiction in terms. Surely, leaders should have a level of maturity. And other leadership qualities. She in fact did nothing, Jamnadas is still to face courts for rogue unit scandal and the shares he has in companies doing business with Government

Hahahahahahaha ka nnete Stella ke NGWANA WA TSHWENYA PresidencyZA CyrilRamaphosa GenBheki_Cele Done with accepting mediocrity and ridicule of the nation of South Africa. I did not have the luxury to go survive outside our borders, I survived where it was hotter. playbook on “controlled states of being” wont work here!

Thee most childish minister amongs them all.....'ngwana watshwenya ' Mondli👊👊👊👊👊 Wayibeka kahle People like Mondli Makhanya and the Black Analysts of this country have many tongues,come elections time,ANC is their Best Factory Fault to be in power. true indeed... but not just the one, you can see this with other ministers too, childish and speak worst then Grade R learners at pre-school level... in high political positions but the vocabulary is at ground zero...

I seen that mask in her plate Zuma o tsena kae? Ben 10? Mazibuko? The whole Communication department yona? Limpopo? 🤔 Jeez let's move on Stellarated must be fed up with the same story on the wires day in and day out. We never expected fireworx for CyrilRamaphosa in the first place. After her 2 month suspension she will be promoted to DP and possibly the later Mrs President. Let's move on now

They are sworn in, yet they have no clue of what is expected of them! These clever blacks lacks wisdom & they enjoy attacking other black people just for supper. White people hate you with passion Our politicians are obsessed with celebrity. Everything is about optics for Instagram. Considering the extraordinary times we are in I think a sterner example should, and possibly will, be made of her. But let’s not kid ourselves, she’s one of many and they are not all “young” by any stretch of the imagination.

Mdu is the one who is childish Nope....she is just vintage anc....Cares only about herself!! Why is she so sorry now Sorry she got caught!! Mondli is talking nonsense Pithy I agree, getting this job was easy due to political affiliation and for most of these people it has always been about getting to that place of thinking now I have arrived. I have stuff and now I am important. The know very little about wisdom and fortitude to lead.

the right people for the right jobs at all times...., it's the only way! stayhomesa growsa 😷👍 The problem is some of them what’s to be celebrities Likewise to our own children Stella Ndabeni is a loose black-ship just like Mduduzi Manana Absolutely right Mondli,very disappointing. Khuze_Elikhulu Aren't people being too harsh on Stella though?

Leaders are not 'appointed' , they are 'made' ? Big difference between 'the person' / 'the Office' Many may be appointed into 'the Office of' the authority resides in THAT office...oh, but the person who sits in the office....this is (part) of SA downfall = appointees 😶 JacqMaraisPhoto Such a good read.

It's not only politicians. The country in general doesn't produce responsible adults. Most, if not all the people who are breaking the lockdown are adults, and they can't do just one simple thing... stay at home for a mere 21 days Most young ladies, their got promoted to the highest positions, because they dd well in bedrooms,

Correctly said. People always complain about the old guard in Gov and vouch for young blood, but look at what the young blood does. Fully agree with you Mr Makhanya... She's not an exception, the ANC has for sometime been deploying the worst of it's cadres-the howlers gang. I couldn’t have said it better, she really need to do some self evaluation to determine if she’s ready to LEAD!

The coordinated attacks are too much now, some unwarranted, but I guess Stratcom decided she’s ripe for lynching☹️. ke_princie Action and consequences must be applied against her and the law of the country must be consistent to all the citizens of the country.. Thats true you’ve said it all...i mean you could have added the self serving pile of steaming horse shit that the GBV perp tried to serve us as mitigation (which I found more offensive)- but still what you’ve said I think covers my fear that these people are insufficient to the coming task

Political she is not matured When she was appointed by zuma de said she is de youngest minister with bright mind, dololo bright mind The thing about Ben 10 was not that necessary though🤧 but a pleasing piece. Am truly disappointed by her action as a young leader of ANC I thought maybe she was a Winnie in the making but just like other young politicians of this party she followed the gigabas behavior n the Mananas right now am looking at RonaldLamola I hope he doesn't derail.

Some say she's the icing on the cupcake... An absolute howler by Mondli Makhanya. Essential reading... Please it’s must be equal justice for all so if Stella doesn’t go to jail all people who arrested must be released immediately Very well said Mondli!👌 Disgusting behavior. Common sense is not so common after all. She must be told to step down. No leadership Fibre in her at all

JJ_Stellies Who on earth addresses the nation wearing a R 20 000 hoodie. Looks as if she was interrupted watching Netflix ...Masina...Lungisa...Manana....etc.... Wow you'd swear she killed someone Its getting annoying Uyadina y go against health minister and the president grow up sis The fathers all took their jackets and left.

ferialhaffajee Leaders Lindiwe Zulu went to a mall because she couldn’t stay home...I would love to hear Mondli’s take on her actions. I understand the gaze I.t.o youth but can’t help feeling this is a tad heavy and unbalanced. zilevandamme Also disappointed VusiSambo This has nothing to do with her age! But look at the quality of the organisation and her peers she was choosen from! This sort of articles and mindset keeps youth of senior positions to actual innovate instead we think age is a sign of maturity

'Then he appointed Ndabeni-Abrahams, previously a multiple-decibel howler who could outshout anyone in a Mediterranean fish market.' Mara bra Mondli😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 When a man is in love.... Never in the best interest of the country,but factional battles for power and resources - protect comrades at all costs even if they waste billions of taxpayers money(Nomvula)stole from the poor & dead( Mandela & Winnie),loot pensioners money (VBS) or a constitutional delinquent

EbrahimFakir It’s the mentality that concerns me , when elected to senior positions they develop a complex of being superior to most instead of serving the people Remain rooted in obsolete ideologies. 😔 You can be young, mature and emotionally intelligent. She is just young This is the same guy who was Cyril's praise singer. He was one of those who wanted to, make us believe that Cyril is mister fix all. Now Cyril is here with a cabinet full of delinquents and that Cyril is helpless just like his predecessors

The incorrect person here is the one invited her and welcome her with a nice lunch and top it all posted the picture, fully knowing they breaking the Law....mmmmh Ismellarat This is not an age thing Jacinda Ardern is 38 and a mature world leader with true values and leadership. That is why Saffa are flocking to 🇳🇿

VusiSambo Mondli 🔥 UnmovedLee Mondli is quick to write badly about black people. Mondli is serving the interests of his baases (whites). Can someone tell me why, if she was punished for being in the wrong, did nothing happen to her husband who eas also sitting at that table? Why is he not punished also?

I'm more particularly worried that she did not see her wrong doing but was told to apologize because she did violate the lock down rule. Whare are the chances she will commit another stupid mistake again? Usually the incompetent 'leader' is as a result of the incompetent person making the appointment. It's made either to have a useful idiot in place or the appointer is useless at making key decisions

JJ_Stellies This woman is sloppy Ukrancukrancu uNomngqusho shem But there is also an element of arrogance as well that plays a role. Theres this attitude of 'im in parliament so im above everyone else,laws applying to commoners dont apply to me' A forthright and well penned piece. This portfolio had the makings of turning around a truly key contributor to the economy. Not only did Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams let the country down, she let WomeninLeaderhip down. CelebrityPoliticians are the hindrance of progress.

She's beautiful We must stop being ageist and judge people based on their performance. My worry is this will be an impediment to many young and vibrant leaders in the future who are ready to lead. Stella's behavioral patterns have nothing to do with her age, but everything to do with arrogance. Rubishh you MondliMakhanya1

Such a brilliant article by Mondli. So insightful and true. I really hope all MYANC leadership reads it and reflects. And especially Stella, who is in dire need of some reflection, but whose substantial ego may get in the way of doing so. Paldron ANC government doesn't take Department Of Communication seriously, who was the minister before Stella?

That’s what we get if we brainwash people into thinking they are eternal children. this has nothing to do with age but lack of leadership, morals, honesty & simply common sense which is abstent within the ruling party. we have capable young men & women who can have positive contribution if given a chance. GREED & SELFISHNESS now rules in SA whether young or old

'When given the ultimate adult tool – power – she became a danger to herself and all around her.' The end. Add to that lindiwe Zulu - how can social services fall under this immature and on appropriate appointee But not so long ago y'all we're blaming ANC for having a great number of 'old' leaders nesbert_kamo And MbalulaFikile and Julius_S_Malema and FloydShivambu. There’s a pattern here

She’s definitely one of the most childish leaders whose appointment is very questionable Min I forgive her may president not punish her with more months Most of these so called young blood leaders are not yet matured enough..one picks up that in their utterances actions & behavior..that's why there must always be older ppl with sober minds experience wisdom & guiding ability..

en thats true Yes you can also see all the other grown up children who keep contravening lockdown and the ones that have obeyed who have businesses to run are faced with a possible LD extension! The problem is some have ears and others have ornaments! [VCO2012] Couldn't have said it better They chant – and believe – the same slogans they chanted in their student and youth activism. True they are not ready for Adult tool - POWER

Jabu Pule Mahlangu Mentoring Mondli on point as always ☝️ Viva kulondawo comrade!!!!

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams: Her past controversies and how she survivedStella Ndabeni-Abrahams, the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, who was on Wednesday placed on two-month suspension by President Cyril Ramaphosa for violating the 21 days lockdown regulations is no stranger to controversy. Political reporter Sihle Mavuso revisits her checkered past. Is this really necessary Can we get her, Cele, the whole EFF exco, Mr Fix -fokol, Zuma and Ace in adjacent cells pls? This was not necessary🤣🤣 But thanks for sharing Stella's unpleasant record in S.A politics

WATCH: Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams begs South Africans to forgive her for breaking lockdown rulesNdabeni-Abrahams said she was deeply sorry for her actions and hoped that South Africans and President Cyril Ramaphosa would forgive her for her actions. Day13ofLockdown The Law should be allowed to take its course. She must be held accountable like the rest of the sa citizens that hit arrested. She is NOT above the Law. Fokof TheMercurySA Tell that to the South Africans who were ARRESTED for the exact same thing. He can forgive her all he wants but I'm sure they won't.

Lockdown: Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams apologises to SAMinister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has apologised for breaching the lockdown regulations. The punishment is still not enough....our vulnerable people of S.A are taken for a ride... And resigned Mr President what u do in right hand please do it in left hand 🙉🙉🙉

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams placed on special leaveMinister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has been placed on special leave for two months. Not arrested kanti? 😬Twitter can make you....and can also destroy yuh😫 Lawbreakers must go to jail

President censures Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams for lockdown lunch | The PresidencyNot good enough! She should be fired. And all of cabinet should be on 50% pay. Thus leadership, thank u Mr President. The thing about one politician trying to lie to another politician is that both are very skilled in the art and can spot a lie.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams placed on two months' special leave, one unpaid, after lockdown lunchPresident Cyril Ramaphosa has placed minister of communications and digital technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on special leave for two months – one month of which will be unpaid. Mxim Well done CyrilRamaphosa , you've made our task of explaining to fellow SAcans why they must respect 21daysLockdownSA easy. Will the salary be declared as a fine for contravention of lockdown regulations?