President Cyril Ramaphosa only gave the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, permission to travel to Zimbabwe after she had already returned to South Africa. This was revealed in the Minister’s report into the ANC’s abuse of an air force jet to travel to Harare on party political business.
The President only approved Minister Mapisa-Nqakula’s request to travel to Zimbabwe on 10 September, a full day after the delegation returned.
This means that Mapisa-Nqakula and her entourage left the country illegally without approval from the President and in violation of the Executive Ethics Code which governs Executive travel. The DA will submit this information as supplementary evidence in our complaint against the Minister with Parliament’s Ethics Committee.
Furthermore, and perhaps more astonishing is the fact that the President made an approval to an illegality because he issued approval for a trip which had already taken place without his permission.
It is clear that it is not only the Minister and the ANC, but now also the President who has a case to answer for.
Other irregularities that have been exposed in the report include:
- The Minister only sought the President’s approval for the trip a day before she left South Africa. This is in contravention of the Ministerial Handbook which requires approval two weeks in advance.
- According to Section 80(3) of the Defence Act, the Minister may only authorise the usage of military aircraft for any person who is not an employee of the State after consulting with the Minister of Finance. Nowhere in her two reports to the President, did the Minister of Defense even mention Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni. Not only has the Minister and the ANC delegation contravened Covid-19 lockdown regulation by not obtaining permission to travel from Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, she also broke the law.
- Minister Mapisa-Nqakula also abandoned her post, as the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was also only designated as the Acting Minster of Defence and Military Veterans after the fact.
- There is still no indication whether the ANC-delegation obtained permission from the Minister of Transport to travel to Zimbabwe as per the level 2 lockdown regulations.
President Ramaphosa’s decision to protect Minister Mapisa-Nqakula in her illegalities regarding the ill-fated Zimbabwe trip, makes him complicit in her actions, as well as the illegal actions of those delegates that represented his party.
As Minister Mapisa-Nqakula must be held accountable for her crimes, so too must the President be held accountable for his action in this matter. Very recently he has expressed outrage at corrupt officials robbing State coffers during a time that left South Africans particularly vulnerable. By sanctioning this illegal trip after the fact, his own action has now proven how hypocritical that outrage was – nothing more than performance art.
The President had the perfect opportunity to take a strong stance against corruption by firing Mapisa-Nqakula. He wasted that opportunity and instead put his stamp of approval on it.