Sun, 25 Oct 2020

President Cyril Ramaphosa's reprimand of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula for taking ANC officials on an air force jet to Zimbabwe isn't enough - she should be fired, two opposition parties said.

Late on Saturday evening, the Presidency issued a statement announcing that Ramaphosa had issued Mapisa-Nqakula with a formal reprimand.

"The president has further sanctioned the minister by imposing a salary sacrifice on the minister's salary for three months, starting from 1 November 2020.

"Her salary for the three months should be paid into the Solidarity Fund, which was established to support the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic," reads the statement.

"The president, furthermore, directed the minister to make sure that the ANC reimburses the state for the costs of the flight to Harare and to report to him once that has been done."

The action already taken against the minister was not good enough, said DA MP Kobus Marais in a statement on Sunday.

He demanded that Ramaphosa fire Mapisa-Nqakula before the end of this week.

"The president's decision to merely reprimand the minister for wilfully overseeing the ANC's abuse of an air force jet is simply not good enough.

"This reprimand does not illustrate how serious President Ramaphosa is about the minister's dereliction of duty, it illustrates how weak he is in holding members of his party and his executive to account."

Abuse of state resources

He said Ramaphosa effectively downplayed this abuse of state resources by stating it was an "error of judgment" by Mapisa-Nqakula.

"This smacks of how former president Jacob Zuma evaded accountability after the Nkandla scandal, which was another blatant incident of the abuse of state resources.

"We simply cannot allow that the minister gets off scot-free. The fact is that she wilfully allowed the ANC to abuse public funds to illegally travel to Zimbabwe and back aboard the air force's Falcon-900 aircraft."

READ | SANDF says defence minister went to Harare for official duty and gave ANC colleagues a lift

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald expressed a similar sentiment, saying Ramaphosa's sanction is "simply a ruse to pacify the public".

"The FF Plus says it is not a severe enough punishment for a very serious transgression. President Ramaphosa should have fired her immediately. That would have been the correct decision," Groenewald said in a statement.

He noted that the FF plus has already complained to the Public Protector about the matter.

"The president allowed a golden opportunity to show to South Africa that he is serious about eradicating corruption pass him by.

"He once again failed the country in service of the ANC and this sanction is merely a ruse after the gross negligence of the minister of defence, which is tantamount to corruption.

Mkhuleko Hlengwa, IFP MP and chairperson of the parliamentary financial watchdog committee, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, tweeted that Ramaphosa's sanction is insufficient, unless the president releases the report he sought from the minister on the matter.

"Transparency is good governance!" Hlengwa tweeted.

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