Calls emerged on Monday for President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire his defence minister for “abusing state resources.”
The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said in a statement that Ramaphosa has no other option but to fire Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula for “willfully” allowing a delegation of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to travel with her on a military jet to Zimbabwe. Mapisa-Nqakula travel to Harare, Zimbabwean last week for talks with Zimbabwean officials on the current situation in the neighboring country.
The defence minister brought along with her an ANC delegation comprising ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule, a move that has drawn sharp criticism from political parties and civil organizations. The trip, undertaken without adherence to social distancing or permission to leave the country when international travel was banned under the COVID-19 lockdown, was lambasted as a flagrant blurring of state and party lines and abuse of state machinery, which amounts to theft from the people by the ANC.
Amid a public outcry, the ANC said earlier on Tuesday it will reimburse the government for flying the party’s delegation with Mapisa-Nqakula to Zimbabwe.
But the party stoped short of making an apology. As directed by Ramaphosa, Mapisa-Nqakula on Monday submitted a report to the president on the circumstances that led to the minister sharing the flight to Harare with the ANC delegation.
The Presidency confirmed on Tuesday that Ramaphosa was studying the report. The DA hailed the latest development as “a huge victory for South Africa in holding the ANC to full account for its nefarious and thieving ways.”
Following pressure from the public and the DA, the ANC has not only admitted that it abused state resources, but has also indicated that the party would reimburse the government for the costs incurred on behalf of its delegation, said Kobus Marais, DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans.
The defence minister “simply must go” for the gross violation of her oath of office, a dereliction of duty and a complete disregard for ethical standards, Marais said.
The DA will lay a complaint with Parliament Ethics Committee against the minister in this regard, according to Marais.