News Mboweni drawn into ANC Zim flight debacle as opposition...

Mboweni drawn into ANC Zim flight debacle as opposition demands further redress

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Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, South Africa’s Defence Minister currently sits with an official Presidential reprimand on her record and without a salary for three months as political opponents seek further redress for her allowing an ANC delegation to ‘hitch a ride’ on a State asset to Zimbabwe.

First up is Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais who is not content with the sanction handed to Mapisa-Nqakula by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

He has now approached Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to provide answers on other aspects of the flight undertaken by the Falcon 900-ZS-NAN jet to Zimbabwe last month.

Marais wants Mboweni to provide “feedback and qualifications” on a number of points.

These include clarification as to whether Defence Minister Mapisa-Nqakula consulted with the Finance Minister in terms of the Defence Act.

“In both reports the Minister of Defence submitted to the President not a single reference is made to any consultation with you. Can you confirm you were consulted and if so, what your response was? If you were not consulted, the expenses would be irregular, wasteful and unauthorised for the purpose the aircraft was used. Do you plan on taking any action against the Minister?”

Marais also wants the Finance Minister to confirm “whether you (Mboweni) confirmed the calculations of the total costs related to this flight and whether you approved the amount to be invoiced to the ANC.”

“The average cost is R260,000 only for the chartering of the aircraft and that is where the calculations must start and the other costs must be added to that,” Marais has said.

Calling Mkhwebane

Next is the Freedom Front Plus (FF+), whose leader leader Pieter Groenewald is also not satisfied over Mapisa-Nqakula’s censure and has requested that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane investigate “various aspects of the flight to and from Harare” on 8 September.

It includes contraventions of regulations in force pertaining to the national state of disaster as well as not complying with regulations set out in the Guide for Members of the Executive.

The FF+ has already written to Mapisa-Nqakula to get an itemised billing for her trip with the ANC delegation to Zimbabwe, to determine the exact costs of the trip.

There have been reports indicating that the ANC has paid the invoiced amount of R105 545.48.

This, however, has not been confirmed, as yet, by the Defence Ministry (as per the Presidential instruction) nor whether the money was paid to National Treasury or the Secretary for Defence, from whose office the invoice came.

On 27 September, Ramaphosa directed the Defence Minister to “ensure the ANC pays back” the costs incurred for the party’s delegation’s ‘lift’ to Zimbabwe and “report back” to him once its done.

Groenewald says he wants to see the proof of payment.

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