Mapisa-Nqakula evades question on whether Ramaphosa was told ANC officials would be on Zim flight

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Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
PHOTO: Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24
  • Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula wouldn't say whether she informed President Cyril Ramaphosa that ANC officials would travel with her to Zimbabwe.
  • She also dodged the question as to whether the home affairs department checked the ANC members' passports.
  • She said she didn't go to Zimbabwe to look at the waterfall, but to deal with serious issues.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula dodged a question on whether she informed President Cyril Ramaphosa that ANC officials would travel with her to Harare on a South African air force jet. She also didn't say whether officials from the home affairs department checked that the ANC delegation's paperwork was in order.

Mapisa-Nqakula was answering questions in the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon.

In a follow-up question, EFF MP Nonhlanhla Mkhonto asked whether she informed Ramaphosa that she would be travelling with ANC officials and if there were home affairs department officials to check their passports when they left the country.

"I'd rather wait for the outcome of the Public Protector's investigation," Mapisa-Nqakula replied. On 8 September, Mapisa-Nqakula went to Zimbabwe on an air force jet, as she is allowed to do.

But there were also civilians on the flight, who all happen to be ANC officials: Ace Magashule, Tony Yengeni, Nomvula Mokonyane, Enoch Godongwana and Dakota Legoete. Mapisa-Nqakula met her Zimbabwean counterpart, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, on 9 September, which happened to be the same day the ANC delegation was to meet with Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF. The meeting was arranged two days previously.

On the same day, she applied for the required presidential approval, even though the Ministerial Handbook requires that approval is sought at least two weeks before.

ALSO READ | Zim junket: Ramaphosa gave Mapisa-Nqakula 'verbal approval' for visit on the day she left

After News24 reported that Ramaphosa only gave written approval of Mapisa-Nqakula's trip the day after she returned, the presidency issued a statement which said that Ramaphosa gave verbal approval on 8 September. After a public outcry, Ramaphosa ordered Mapisa-Nqakula to provide information about the flight.

The Public Protector also launched an investigation after complaints were laid. After perusing the documents provided by Mapisa-Nqakula, which included an affidavit to the Public Protector, Ramaphosa found she made an "error in judgement" and sanctioned her by docking three months' pay.

In the request for permission to travel abroad, which Mapisa-Nqakula provided to Ramaphosa, no mention was made that the ANC delegation would accompany her. On 31 August, after an ANC NEC meeting, Ramaphosa said: "The secretary-general [of the ANC, Ace Magashule] will be finalising the delegation that will be going to Zimbabwe in days, to meet with the Zimbabwe governing party, Zanu-PF."

The original question was posed by DA MP Kobus Marais.

Mapisa-Nqakula previously said it was common practice to ferry businesspersons and other people on air force planes.

Marais asked on how many occasions since 1 January 2015 had businesspersons and other categories of persons been ferried on such planes when they were travelling to the same destination while the aircraft was being used for official government purposes.

Mapisa-Nqakula said her office didn't keep such records, but she has asked the air force for the required information. She said Marais would recall that she offered an air force flight to the DRC for the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, of which he is a member, in 2018 after Parliament had booked commercial flights.

Mapisa-Nqakula said:

I have been made to feel like I woke up in the morning, and I took an aircraft and I went to Livingstone to see the waterfalls. I did not do that. I went to Zimbabwe, having recovered from Covid-19, to sort out real critical issues, which affect all of us as a country.

"From a human point of view, it would have been very selfish of me to just jump into an aircraft alone and fly to Zimbabwe, leaving people who were also going to Zimbabwe to deal with the same issues I was going there to deal with."

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