Acting public protector finds against Mapisa-Nqakula over ANC’s hitchhike to Zim on military plane
State resources were inappropriately used to improperly benefit a political party when former minister of defence and military veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula allowed other ANC leaders, including then secretary-general Ace Magashule, to travel with her to and from Harare in Zimbabwe in a military aircraft.
This was in breach of the constitution, says a report by the public protector.
According to acting public protector advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, Mapisa-Nqakula neither had the authority nor permission to ferry the ANC delegation in the aircraft approved to transport herself and her staff to and from Harare for an official meeting with her counterpart, Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri, as approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Gcaleka investigated allegations of improper conduct and maladministration relating to Mapisa-Nqakula’s official trip to Zimbabwe in September 2020. The investigation was based on five complaints.
She said Mapisa-Nqakula’s conduct constitutes improper conduct as envisaged in the constitution and maladministration as contemplated in the Public Protector Act.
“The public protector found the department suffered financial prejudice as a result of Ms Mapisa-Nqakula’s conduct of ferrying the ANC delegation to and from Zimbabwe in an SA National Defence Force aircraft,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula cited Covid-19 and the lack of commercial flights for offering a lift to senior ANC members. She departed SA together with six members of the ANC delegation on a military aircraft from the Waterkloof air force base on September 8 2020 and returned to SA through the base with the same ANC delegation on September 9 2020.
She was reprimanded by Ramaphosa and had her full salary docked for three months as punishment. Financial costs incurred by the state totalled R105,545. In the wake of the furore, the ANC reimbursed the department.
Gcaleka said Mapisa-Nqakula’s conduct by giving a lift to the ANC delegation on the aircraft constituted an improper advantage and/or unlawful enrichment to the ANC as envisaged in the Public Protector Act.
She said Ramaphosa must within 30 days of receipt of the report give an instruction for the issuance of a directive for compliance with the ministerial handbook in terms of the constitution to handle the practice of giving lifts to ensure cabinet members and deputy ministers act within the confines of of the constitution at all times when dealing with state resources.
“No remedial action is taken against Mapisa-Nqakula as President Ramaphosa already admonished her and directed her salary for three months be forfeited to the Solidarity Fund. Furthermore, no remedial action is being taken in respect of the recovery of the cost of the trip from the ANC as the party has already paid the amount determined.”
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