Ramaphosa reported to Public Protector after Oryx flight


Seemingly not able to differentiate between government and party business has seen South African President Cyril Ramaphosa reported to the Public Protector for misusing State resources.

The complaint was laid by George Michalakis, Democratic Alliance (DA) National Council of Provinces (NCOP) security and justice spokesman. It comes in the wake of Ramaphosa’s arrival at an African National Congress (ANC) Letsema campaign event in the Free State town of Welkom aboard an SA Air Force (SAAF) Oryx medium transport helicopter. The campaign is reportedly an effort to strengthen the majority party’s connection with “the people” and renew its social contract with residents in communities across the country.

“President Ramaphosa landed in Welkom using an SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Oryx helicopter. His visit was to participate in the ANC Letsema campaign and engage with local ANC branches. Ramaphosa was seen landing in the military helicopter wearing ANC paraphernalia,” Michalakis said in a statement, adding using the military rotary-wing aircraft as a “taxi” was an indication of the lengths the majority party will go to for political gain as well as being wilful misuse of taxpayer money.

The tail number of the SAAF workhorse rotary-wing aircraft that flew Ramaphosa to the former Free State gold mining hub is not known. In all probability it is based at AFB (Air Force Base) Bloemspruit and operated by 87 Helicopter Flying School.

Using SAAF assets for ANC flights previously landed government officials in hot water, notably former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. She was docked three months salary after ferrying an ANC delegation to and from Harare, Zimbabwe, aboard the SAAF Falcon 900B in September 2020. The ruling party subsequently paid R115 000 as its share of costs incurred on the flight following a public uproar. There was also a Public Protector investigation into the flight which found no further sanction should be imposed as Mapisa-Nqakula had been  sufficiently punished.

Days after the Welkom party event, Ramaphosa was on the move again, this time to Northern Cape for another of the provincial imbizos announced in his February State of the Nation Address (SONA). This time his transport was a chartered Falcon 900 (ZS-DFJ), flying under the LMG1 callsign from Pretoria (presumably AFB Waterkloof) to Upington, the imbizo venue on 20 October and back the next day, FlightRadar24 data showed.

The use of the Lanseria-based Zenith Air operated business jet is an indication the SAAF VIP transport squadron – 21 – did not have a serviceable aircraft for Ramaphosa to use. The squadron has a Falcon 900B (ZS-NAN) and two Falcon 50s (ZS-CAQ and ZS-CAS) in its inventory alongside ZS-RSA, the presidential Boeing 737-7ED.