Ramaphosa reprimands minister of defence for ANC trip to Zimbabwe

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Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula must “sacrifice” her salary for three months over the ANC’s controversial trip to Zimbabwe earlier this month.

This comes as President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a “formal reprimand” to the minister.

It emerged earlier in September that ANC members – including secretary-general Ace Magashule – had gone on a party-political trip to meet with Zimbabwean ruling party Zanu-PF, and that Mapisa-Nqakula had offered a lift on a state-owned jet.

The trip was meant for the ANC to meet Zanu-PF over tensions in Zimbabwe.

Magashule admitted the party was “wrong”, and promised to pay back the costs of the trip.

“In our quest to achieve this mission, we travelled in an unusual manner, and profusely humble ourselves where we went wrong during the lockdown. We will reimburse the government for the costs incurred on behalf of our delegation. Our delegation is under quarantine in line with lockdown regulations,” said Magashule on September 15.

On Saturday night, Ramaphosa – who had ordered Mapisa-Nwakula to file a report on what happened – announced the reprimand for the minister, as well as the docking of her salary instructing her that she must ensure that the ANC refunds the state for the trip.

“President Ramaphosa has issued the minister of defence and military veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula with a formal reprimand for conveying an African National Congress (ANC) delegation to Zimbabwe on an aircraft of the South African Air Force (SAAF).

“The president has further sanctioned the minister by imposing a salary sacrifice on the minister’s salary for three months, starting from November 1, 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 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 statement read.

He said that while Mapisa-Nqakula was on an official trip to Zimbabwe on September 8, and that she being given permission to make the trip using the SA Air Force aircraft, 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,” said Ramaphosa’s spokesman, Tyrone Seale.

Ramaphosa found that Mapisa-Nqakula:

  • 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 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 statement read.