Gupta report: ministers off the hook

2013-05-19 10:00

There was a flurry of buck passing this week as government prepared for today’s release of its investigation into the irregular landing of a plane at the Waterkloof air force base.

All indications yesterday were that the buck had landed squarely in Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s lap.

But it seems neither she nor any of her ministerial counterparts will take the fall after extensive discussions at the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Pretoria this weekend.

Also read: Atul Gupta to face charges for ‘embarrassing the ANC’

Sources at the meeting said the NEC had backed the report’s findings to place the blame squarely at the door of those officials already suspended over the debacle.

Various ministers involved in the investigation into the matter met on the sidelines of the meeting under the guidance of ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu on Friday to discuss the matter for the first time since the investigation was concluded.

A source, who was briefed on this smaller meeting, told City Press: “Civil servants will take? the fall and no politician will be blamed for the plane landing without executive authority.”

Chief of state protocol Bruce Koloane, who was suspended earlier this month with four other officials in the police and defence, is set to be the main fall guy.

A senior official briefed about the matter said Koloane is suspected of having received kickbacks for allowing the plane landing.

The official also said Mapisa-Nqakula had been accused of not properly communicating her decision to defence officials after initially refusing permission for the plane, chartered by the politically connected Gupta family, to land at Waterkloof.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe was due to chair a press conference about the investigation’s findings today.

The official, who has seen the full report, said the country’s intelligence agencies also came in for a drubbing for not keeping tabs on the passengers who arrived at Waterkloof.

Mapisa-Nqakula’s spokesperson, Sonwabo Mbananga, said he would not comment on the allegations apportioning blame to the defence department.

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