The department of defence and military veterans suffered financial prejudice as a result of former minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula ferrying an ANC delegation to and from Zimbabwe in a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) aircraft in September 2020.
This was one of the findings made by the Public Protector’s office from its investigation of allegations of improper conduct and maladministration after receiving five complaints relating to the incident.
In her report delivered on Friday, acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka made adverse findings against Mapisa-Nqakula regarding her official trip to the Zimbabwean capital Harare.
“The state incurred travel financial costs as a result of the trip to and from Harare. The department has since calculated the amount due by the ANC [to be] R105 545.46. On September 30 2020, the ANC reimbursed the department the said amount for the costs incurred for its delegation,” Gcaleka said.
She added that Mapisa-Nqakula’s conduct “constituted an improper advantage and unlawful enrichment” for the ANC “as envisaged in the Public Protector Act”.
In 2020, some ANC national executive committee (NEC) members were accused of abusing state resources after hitching a ride on an SA Air Force jet to travel to a bilateral engagement with their Zanu-PF counterparts.
The delegation was made up of senior government members, some of whom were in the ANC NEC, who were tasked with engaging Zimbabwe’s governing party on the unrest that had gripped that country at the time.
In her report, Gcaleka makes it clear that “there were travel financial costs incurred by the state as a result of the trip to and from Harare”.
While Gcaleka found Mapisa-Ngcakula to have acted improperly, she said no remedial action would be taken against her as President Cyril Ramamphosa had already directed that her salary be docked for three months.
“To appropriately remedy this improper conduct, maladministration, unlawful enrichment or receipt of improper advantage, the president must, within 30 days of receipt of this report, give an instruction for the issuance of a directive for compliance with the ministerial handbook, in terms of section 85(2) of the Constitution, to handle the practice of giving lifts to ensure that Cabinet members and deputy ministers act within the confines of the Constitution at all times when dealing with state resources.”
At the time, the presidency said that Mapisa-Nqakula had been on an official trip, but her decision to let the delegation – which included Ace Magashule, Lindiwe Zulu, Nomvula Mokonyane, Tony Yengeni and Dakota Legoete – join her on the flight had been an “error of judgement”.