President Cyril Ramaphosa has formally reprimanded Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula over the recent controversial ANC trip to Zimbabwe, during which a delegation from the governing party hitched a ride on the government aircraft.
The Presidency released a statement late on Saturday, saying the President had also imposed a “salary sacrifice” on Mapisa-Nqakula’s salary for three months starting from 1 November, 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 further directed the Defence Minister to make sure the ANC pays back the costs incurred for the party’s delegation’s ‘lift’ to Zimbabwe and report back to him once its done.
ANC critics will be sure to keep a close watch if and when that reimbursement happens, especially after thesouthafrican.com reported earlier this month that the ruling party had failed to meet it’s August salary bill, an indication that the ANC’s finances are not healthy.
The Presidency said Ramaphosa had approved Mapisa-Nqakula’s official trip to Harare and that she was entitled to use an SA National Defence Force (SANDF) aircraft, but including the ANC delegation was an “error of judgement” on the Minister’s part.
“The President said that this error of judgement was not in keeping with the responsibilities of a Minister of Cabinet.”
Actions inconsistent with the actions of a cabinet minister
“He found that the Minister did not act in the best interest of good governance as required by the Executive Members Code, failed to adhere to the legal prescripts warranting care in use of state resources, and acted in a way that is inconsistent with her position as required by the Code.”
Ramaphosa added that he appreciated that the ANC had committed to reimburse state resources “in excess of those the Minister would have incurred” for her trip.
“However, the sanction imposed on the Minister demonstrated the seriousness with which the President viewed the Minister’s error of judgement given her high position in government,” the Presidency said.
Public protector probe
Despite the ANC committing to refund the state, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane confirmed last week that her investigation into the ANC trip to Zimbabwe would forge ahead.
Ramaphosa’s reprimand stems from Mapisa-Nqakula’s report he requested from her last week, as well as a supplementary report from her.
However, the president has not publicly released these reports yet, despite a chorus of calls for him to do so.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has filed a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to compel Ramaphosa to release the initial report.
The DA’s Kobus Marais said he asked for quotes from charter aircraft companies to get an idea of how much the ANC owed.
“The quotes that we received were only for the chartering of the aircraft and didn’t include the landing rights and the parking for the whole day and all the entertainment on board such as the eats and the drinks,” Marais said.
“The average cost is R260,000 only for the chartering of the aircraft and that is where the calculations must start and the other costs must be added to that.”
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