Defence minister given 48 hours to submit report to President on Air Force flight fiasco
Durban - Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, has been given 48 hours to provide President Cyril Ramaphosa with a detailed report on the circumstances that led to the Minister sharing a flight to Harare, Zimbabwe, with a senior delegation of African National Congress leadership.
On Friday, the Presidency issued a statement after details of the trip came to light during a radio interview earlier in the day.
The DA's Shadow Minister of Defence, Kobus Marais, then slammed the incident and called on Ramaphosa to clarify why the ANC delegation used the jet.
"The DA is absolutely disgusted by the ANC’s flagrant abuse of the State machinery, its deliberate muddying of State and party lines and the fact that the South African taxpayer had to sponsor this meeting between the two political parties," he said.
Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, said that the ANC’s delegation led by the party’s Secretary General Ace Magashule had taken advantage of Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s official trip to Zimbabwe by boarding the flight.
Speaking during the radio interview, Zulu said Mapisa-Nqakula had all the necessary authority and permission to travel outside the country and that they had even done their Covid-19 tests.
Zulu went on to say that the trip was to deal with issues of national importance to both South Africa and Zimbabwe and that their talks with Zanu-PF were significant because the situation in Zimbabwe had a negative impact on South Africa’s own economy, security and social issues.
“The ANC always travels on its own, we pay our own (flight) tickets, we get accommodation whether we are going to Mozambique, Angola, Namibia or even if we’re going to the Sudan, we always go on our own but right now we have pressing issues between ourselves and Zimbabwe in general and Zanu-PF,” she said.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said that the defence force did not need his permission to take trips as they were “in charge of the skies”.
According to Tyrone Seale, Presidency acting spokesperson, Ramaphosa has noted the public discussion that has been generated around a flight.
“In the interest of good governance and the prudent and ethical use of state assets, the President has directed the Minister to provide a report within 48 hours that will set out the circumstances around the flight and the passenger list.
“The President welcomes the interest shown by South Africans in this matter as an indication of the nation’s vigilance against allegations of improper deployment of public resources,” Seale said.