Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/DEAAN VIVIER
Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/DEAAN VIVIER

Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will appear before parliament's portfolio committee on defence to account for an incident where ANC leaders were transported on an SA Air Force jet to Zimbabwe.

On Tuesday, the DA said the committee's chair, Cyril Xaba, had agreed to the party's request that the minister account to parliament.

The DA is of the view that parliament should play its oversight role on this matter in order to ensure accountability and transparency,” MP Kobus Marais said.

“We will, however, not allow for the minister’s appearance before the defence committee to turn into an exercise to exonerate her. Unlike President Cyril Ramaphosa’s slap on the wrist, the minister should expect a grilling from the DA,” he said.

At the weekend, Ramaphosa reprimanded Mapisa-Nqakula about the saga and instructed that she take a three-month salary penalty, which would be paid into the Solidarity Fund, which was established to address needs arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The minister was castigated for having transported an ANC delegation on September 8 to Harare. The delegation included the party’s secretary-general, Ace Magashule, as well as national executive committee members Gwede Mantashe, Lindiwe Zulu, Tony Yengeni and Enoch Godongwana. The ANC delegation went to talk to the ruling Zanu-PF about the crisis in Zimbabwe.

The ANC has agreed to repay the cost of transporting the delegation to Harare. The amount to be repaid will be the excess of the costs that the minister would have incurred on her approved trip to Zimbabwe.

Mapisa-Nqakula, after the incident, was instructed by Ramaphosa to hand a report to him about the circumstances of the flight.

Marais said the report should be made available to the parliamentary committee and a progress report in terms of the ANC's repayment, including calculations from independent aviation experts.

This brazen abuse of state resources by the minister and her party cannot be downplayed. Especially since this was not the minister’s first time abusing military resources for personal and political ends,” he said, referring to the incident when Mapisa-Nqakula smuggled Michelle Wege, the girlfriend of her late son, Chumani Nqakula, on board an SA Air Force jet.

Marias said that while the minister's appearance before the committee was a step in the right direction, ultimately Ramaphosa should fire her.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za

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