PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has scolded Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula for giving a lift to a senior ANC delegation to Zimbabwe using an aircraft of the South African Air Force (SAAF), the Presidency said on Saturday night.
According to a statement from the Presidency, the minister will also have a three months’ salary docked as punishment, 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, the statement said.
The president has also directed 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.
Ramaphosa’s decision follows his consideration of her initial report and a supplementary report that he had directed the minister to provide on the circumstances that led to the ANC delegation travelling on a South African Air Force plane to Harare, Zimbabwe on 8 September 2020.
While the Minister was on an official trip for which the president had given permission and for which she was entitled to use a SAAF aircraft, the president found that it was an error of judgment to use the plane to convey a political party delegation.
“The President said that this error of judgment was not in keeping with the responsibilities of a Minister of Cabinet. 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 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,” the Presidency said in a statement.
The Presidency said that in his letter of reprimand to the minister, Ramaphosa also said he appreciated that the ANC had committed to reimburse state resources spent in excess of those the Minister would have incurred for her approved travel to meet her Zimbabwean counterpart.
“However, the sanction imposed on the Minister demonstrated the seriousness with which the President viewed the Minister’s error of judgment, given her high position in government,” the statement added.
Last week, social development minister Lindiwe Zulu defended the ANC’s use of the military plane to fly to Zimbabwe, saying the ANC did not go to Zimbabwe for “a joyride”.
(COMPILED BY INSIDE POLITICS STAFF)