“As (Defence Minister Nosiviwe) Mapisa-Nqakula must be held accountable for her crimes, so too must the president be held accountable for his action in this matter. Very recently he has expressed outrage at corrupt officials robbing state coffers during a time that left South Africans particularly vulnerable,” said DA MP Kobus Marais.
“By sanctioning this illegal trip after the fact, his own action has now proven how hypocritical that outrage was – nothing more than performance art. The president had the perfect opportunity to take a strong stance against corruption by firing Mapisa-Nqakula. He wasted that opportunity and instead put his stamp of approval on it.”
Marais said Ramaphosa “only gave the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula permission to travel to Zimbabwe after she had already returned” to South Africa.
“This was revealed in the minister’s report into the ANC’s abuse of an air force jet to travel to Harare on party political business. The president only approved Minister Mapisa-Nqakula’s request to travel to Zimbabwe on 10 September, a full day after the delegation returned,” said Marais.
“This means that Mapisa-Nqakula and her entourage left the country illegally without approval from the president and in violation of the Executive Ethics Code which governs executive travel. The DA will submit this information as supplementary evidence in our complaint against the minister with Parliament’s ethics committee.”
Ramaphosa this week directed that documentation relating to the controversial visit to Zimbabwe be made public.
The DA argued that Ramaphosa made an approval to “an illegality because he issued approval for a trip which had already taken place” without his permission.
“It is clear that it is not only the minister (Mapisa-Nqakula) and the ANC, but now also the president who has a case to answer for,” said Marais.
He said from perusing Mapisa-Nqakula’s report ordered by Ramaphosa, the DA has deduced the minister only sought the president’s approval for the trip a day before she left South Africa.
“This is in contravention of the ministerial handbook, which requires approval two weeks in advance. According to section 80(3) of the Defence Act, the minister may only authorise the usage of military aircraft for any person who is not an employee of the state after consulting with the minister of finance,” Marais added.
“Nowhere in her two reports to the president did the minister of defence even mention Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. Not only has the minister (Mapisa-Nqakula) and the ANC delegation contravened Covid-19 lockdown regulation by not obtaining permission to travel from Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, she also broke the law.”
Ramaphosa has since issued Mapisa-Nqakula with a formal reprimand for conveying the ANC delegation led by secretary-general Ace Magashule to Zimbabwe on an aircraft of the South African Air Force (SAAF).
Ramaphosa further sanctioned the minister by imposing a salary sacrifice on her salary for three months, starting from November 1, 2020. Her salary for the three months should be paid into the Solidarity Fund, which was established to support the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ramaphosa has also ordered the minister to make sure that the ANC reimburses the state for the costs of the flight to Harare and to report to him once that has been done.
However, the DA insisted on Thursday Ramaphosa was trying to protect Mapisa-Nqakula.
“President Ramaphosa’s decision to protect Minister Mapisa-Nqakula in her illegalities regarding the ill-fated Zimbabwe trip makes him complicit in her actions, as well as the illegal actions of those delegates that represented his party,” said Marais.
African News Agency (ANA)