Ramaphosa reprimands Mapisa-Nqakula, docks three months' salary over ANC Zim junket

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa has sanctioned Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula for giving an ANC delegation a "lift" to Zimbabwe on an air force jet.
  • Ramaphosa said her salary would be paid to the Solidarity Fund for three months.
  • He said it was an "error of judgment" for the ANC delegation to be given a lift on an air force jet.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has cracked the whip, reprimanding Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and docking three months' salary over the ANC junket to Harare on an air force jet earlier this month.

In a statement late on Saturday, the Presidency said starting from November, Mapisa-Nqakula's salary would be paid to the Solidarity Fund for the next three months.

"The president has further sanctioned the minister by imposing a salary sacrifice on the minister'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," the statement noted.

Ramaphosa took it a step further, indicating why he had taken tough action against the minister for her "error in judgment".

"He [Ramaphosa] 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 statement noted. 

An ANC delegation, led by party secretary-general Ace Magashule, flew to Zimbabwe on the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) dime for a meeting with the ruling Zanu PF.

The SANDF defended the trip, saying Mapisa-Nqakula travelled on official duty and gave the ANC delegation a lift. The ANC first denied there was an abuse of state resources, but after Ramaphosa intervened and asked for a report from the minister within 48 hours, the party agreed to repay the cost of the fight.

"The president furthermore 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," the Presidency said in its statement.

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Ramaphosa's office said he considered two reports from Mapisa-Nqakula on the matter and 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".

Ramaphosa wrote to Mapisa-Nqakula, reprimanded her and said while he appreciated that the ANC had committed to pay back the cost of the flight, it was still an error of judgment which he took seriously.

"In his letter of reprimand to the minister, President Ramaphosa 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 controversial flight is subject to two complaints before the Public Protector.

The DA has meanwhile estimated that the ANC would have to pay around R260 000 for the flight with the delegation, which included Magashule, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, Nomvula Mokonyane, Enoch Godongwana, Tony Yengeni and Dakota Legoete.