Cape Town -
Military discipline relies on following orders and on meticulous record-keeping.
But that seems to have unravelled when it comes to the number of charter flights undertaken by former defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
Her successor, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, had to admit on Tuesday that she still could not provide a parliamentary answer to DA MP David Maynier, more than a year after the question was asked.
“I have consistently received contradicting information from the department (of defence) in respect of this parliamentary question and have resultantly not been able to assertively provide the requisite reply in this regard,” Mapisa-Nqakula said in response to a parliamentary question by Maynier’s DA colleague Shahid Esau.
Last week, Maynier unsuccessfully tried to read out in the National Assembly a list of Gulfstream jet flights taken by Sisulu during her stint at the helm of the defence force, as he had vowed to do earlier in the year.
He was quickly cut short by a parliamentary point of order from Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor, who interjected just as Maynier had finished reading that “on a Friday, a Gulfstream jet departs from Lanseria International Airport and lands at Air Force Base Ysterplaat to collect the minister in Cape Town. The flight was empty. The flight cost plus minus R100 000… ”
For Mapisa-Nqakula it is the second time she has been embarrassed on the same issue.
Her response last year that her predecessor took 203 flights, at an estimated R200 000 each, was withdrawn from the parliamentary record after Sisulu rejected the costs and maintained she had taken only 35 flights - with her office on several subsequent occasions saying there was nothing to add on this matter.
However, Maynier has promised to continue trying to get to the bottom of what he believed was R40 million spent on luxury charter flights.
“The fact is Lindiwe Sisulu treated the air force like her personal airborne taxi service. She zoomed up and down the country like a yo-yo, wasting millions of rands. So I’m not surprised the air force lost count of number of flights she undertook,” Maynier told the Cape Argus.
“Thankfully, her wings have been clipped. The poor minister must be desperately missing her favourite privately owned ultra-luxury Gulfstream executive jet. The transition back to ‘chicken or beef’ on South African Airways must have been traumatic.” - Cape Argus