Chopper ‘used on party errand’

2013-07-17 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has used a military helicopter to attend an ANC meeting in Potchefstroom.

The DA said this was a misuse of state resources because she was attending a party and not a government matter.

DA MP David Maynier said the minister could not use the SA Air Force “as her personal taxi service”.

Mapisa-Nqakula was asked by President Jacob Zuma to accept a memorandum in Potchefstroom, compiled by the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) and several ANC members in the North West province, on his behalf.

About 4 000 people had gathered in Potchefstroom to witness the handover of the memorandum addressing problems the ANC is experiencing in the province.

These problems had already led to the city’s ANC mayor, Maphetle Maphetle, being replaced by DA mayor Annette Combrink on the strength of votes from ANC members.

Sanco and ANC members in the city council asked Zuma to accept a memorandum in which he would be asked, as president of the ANC, to act against Maphetle.

Mapisa-Nqakula was, however, sent to Potchefstroom in Zuma’s stead.

The minister’s spokesperson, Sonwabo Mbananga, yesterday said the DA’s allegations were unfounded as the minister had not flown to Potchef­stroom to solve internal party differences or act in an ANC capacity.

Mbananga said Mapisa- Nqakula was primarily asked, as a cabinet minister, by Zuma to accept the memorandum on his behalf. Further, she was flown to Potchefstroom to give urgent attention to the potentially explosive situation that required cabinet’s intervention.

Maynier maintained that the minister’s visit to Potchef­stroom had nothing to do with the Department of Defence but was specifically aimed at tackling the ANC’s political problems in the council.

He said the minister’s use of a military helicopter for party political affairs was misuse of state resources and also transgressed the rules as set out in the ministerial handbook.

In terms of these directives a minister may not be flown by the SA Air Force or at the cost of any state department to attend to party political affairs.

Mapisa-Nqakula did not accept the memorandum from the crowd in person, and had, Mbananga said, received it at a place he did not wish to reveal. He said the minister had not been involved in any party political talks and had only received the memorandum.

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