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Action Taken on South African Defence Minister


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By Ashok Ramsarup :: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has decided to reprimand Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula for allowing an African National Congress (ANC) delegation to board a South African Airforce jet to trouble-torn Zimbabwe. This follows an uproar by politicians and the local community over the fiasco.

The ANC delegation, which was led under ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule, met officials from the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in the neighboring state earlier this month to help in a meditation process to end what was described as that country’s escalating economic and political crisis. But the talks failed to bear fruit between the ANC and Zanu-PF after its President Emmerson Mnangagwa denied his country was in a crisis, adding that there was nothing to discuss. Mnangagwa, who is a lawyer, took power after Robert Mugabe was forced to resign in 2017.

Ramaphosa said in a statement a formal reprimand had been forwarded to Minister Mapisa-Nqakula with the proviso that three months of her salary would be docked and it should be paid into the Solidarity Fund that was established to provide financial support to the coronavirus pandemic effective from 1 November 2020.

He also directed the Minister to ensure that the ANC reimbursed the state for incurring the costs of the flight to the capital, Harare, and to report to him directly after the payment had been made.

The President called on the Defence Minister to provide details that led to the ANC delegation using the SAAF plane on the 8th of this month. Ramaphosa stated that the Minister was entitled to use the plane, but found it was an error of judgment to use a state plane to convey a political party delegation.

Ramaphosa further stated this was not in keeping with the responsibilities of a Minister of Cabinet. He found that the Minister:
• 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.

In his letter of reprimand to the Minister, President Ramaphosa said he appreciated that the ANC had committed to reimburse state resources spent in excess of those the Minister would have incurred for her approved travel to meet her Zimbabwean counterpart.
The statement added: “However, 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.”

Recently Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams was placed on two months special leave by President Ramaphosa with a month’s salary docked. Ramaphosa took the action after a photograph surfaced on social media, showing Ndabeni-Abrahams violating the government-imposed COVID-19 lockdown rules.

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