Ramaphosa won't take further action against minister over Zimbabwe flight
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday said he would not be taking further disciplinary action against defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula for a controversial flight which ferried ANC delegates to Harare in September.
The flight was made in an air force jet.
“I do not intend to take any further action. I deem the reprimand given to the minister, the directive that three months’ salary be donated to the Solidarity Fund, and the obligation to ensure that the costs of the trip are reimbursed by the political party [which has been done] sufficient sanction,” said Ramaphosa in a written reply to the National Assembly.
He was responding to parliamentary questions submitted by the DA’s Dr Leon Schreiber, who asked the president whether he intended taking further action against the minister for failing to comply with guidelines for international travel.
If not, Schreiber wanted Ramaphosa to give reasons as to why as the minister would not account for “contravening the explicit provisions of the guidelines by undertaking an unauthorised international trip at taxpayer expense”.
Schreiber asked if the president was informed about the passengers who accompanied Mapisa-Nqakula on the September 8 2020 trip.
The embattled minister was reprimanded by Ramaphosa and had her salary docked for the trip which cost taxpayers R232,000.
Maphisa-Nqakula was at the receiving end of a backlash for flying the ANC delegates to Zimbabwe in the aircraft. The delegation attended a meeting with Zanu-PF leaders regarding tensions in Zimbabwe.
Later, the defence force confirmed that the ANC paid the R105,000 portion of the bill it received for the trip.
Defending herself after calls for her head, the minister said she did not go to Zimbabwe “on holiday, but to discuss issues of instability in the country that are negatively impacting SA’s security”.
Ramaphosa explained that “while the request did not comply with the requirement in the Guide for Members of the Executive that requests should be made at least two weeks prior to departure, this is, unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence due to the pressures of state work”.
“The international trip was approved by me on September 8 2020. As I was not in Gauteng at the time, the approval was verbal and the relevant documentation was signed as soon as possible thereafter,” he said.
Ramaphosa said he was informed that Mapisa-Nqakula would be travelling with two support staff, listed in her written request for permission to travel and submitted to him on September 7.
“The information about the request for permission to travel by the minister as well as my approval was made public on October 1 2020, and can be accessed on the presidency website,” he said.
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