Defence minister to explain ANC cross-border jet jaunt to parliament

29 September 2020 - 13:31
Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is scheduled to appear before her oversight committee on October 16. File photo
Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is scheduled to appear before her oversight committee on October 16. File photo
Image: Gallo Images / Rapport / Deaan Vivier

Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is due to appear before parliament within a fortnight to account for a controversial trip to Zimbabwe during which she gave a lift to an ANC delegation on a military jet.

This is according to senior ANC MP and chairperson of the National Assembly's portfolio committee on defence, Cyril Xaba, who told TimesLIVE Mapisa-Nqakula was scheduled to appear before her oversight committee on October 16.

“The matter is in the public space and the committee deserves to be briefed about the developments pertaining to her trip to Zimbabwe,” Xaba said on Tuesday.

Mapisa-Nqakula was reprimanded by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday and had her full salary docked for three months as punishment for stunning the nation by flying with ANC leaders to Harare on a party-political mission using a government-owned jet earlier this month.

Ramaphosa's reprimand of his defence minister has been widely criticised as a slap on the wrist, with political parties and analysts calling for her to be fired.

The DA estimated the ANC's use of the state jet could have cost taxpayers more than R260,000. The governing party has undertaken to reimburse the government.

Minister must not be exonerated

DA MP Kobus Marais said his party would ensure the meeting on October 16 was not turned into an exercise to exonerate Mapisa-Nqakula.

“The DA is of the view that parliament should play its oversight role on this matter to ensure accountability and transparency. We will, however, not allow the minister’s appearance before the defence committee to turn into an exercise to exonerate her. Unlike President Ramaphosa’s slap on the wrist, the minister should expect a grilling from the DA,” said Marais.

Marais said, among other things, they wanted Mapisa-Nqakula to explain:

  • Why she allowed the ANC delegation to abuse an air force jet to travel to Zimbabwe for party-political discussions, and by virtue ignore the principle of separation of powers;
  • Whether the delegation received permission from transport minister Fikile Mbalula to travel abroad in light of the level 2 lockdown regulations. Supporting documents should be supplied;
  • Progress in terms of the ANC repayment, including calculations from independent aviation experts.

Marais also said her report about the incident should be made available.

“This brazen abuse of state resources by the minister and her party cannot be downplayed, especially since this was not the minister’s first time abusing military resources for personal and political ends. She also stands accused of smuggling her late son’s Burundian girlfriend on-board an air force VVIP jet.

“While minister Mapisa-Nqakula's appearance before parliament is a step in the right direction, she should ultimately be fired by the president. In his own words, she 'failed to adhere to legal prescripts warranting care in use of [state] resources' and 'acted in a way that is inconsistent with [her] position'.”

TimesLIVE


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