DA going the PAIA route for Harare flight report


President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office will be on the receiving end of an official Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request to release his defence minister’s report on ZS-NAN’s flight to and from Harare earlier this month.

The application to have sight of Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s report – asked for by the national defence force Commander-in-Chief – was delivered to The Presidency within the stipulated 48 hour timeframe and since then there’s been no word on it.

This, added to reports the Defence and Military Veterans Minister provided feedback on the flight of 21 Squadron’s Falcon 900 to what is termed “an ANC study group”, was sufficient ammunition for the Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister to go the official route.

“It is common for the ruling party to play both judge and jury in an unashamed attempt to escape accountability,” Kobus Marais said in support of his PAIA submission.

“The DA previously requested Ramaphosa to immediately release the report on the ANC delegation that used the air force jet to visit their counterparts in Zimbabwe but this did not happen. It is unacceptable the Minister reports back to the ANC about the ANC’s failures and South Africans are left in the dark.

“This report is gathering dust on President Ramaphosa’s desk. It must be made public.

“We cannot allow a situation where a report, potentially detailing a flagrant abuse of scarce state resources is viewed and decided upon by President Ramaphosa alone, whose track record in holding his ANC comrades accountable for corruption is depressing.

“The ANC cannot legitimately investigate itself; the President must hand over this report so the checks and balances in our democratic system can properly scrutinise it and hold those found guilty accountable,” Marais said.

The public outcry about the flight with Mapisa-Nqakula apparently offering “a lift” to a senior ANC delegation including secretary-general Ace Magashule saw an apology to South Africans by the ruling party and an offer to pay extra flight costs incurred by their presence aboard the French bizjet.

According to African Defence Review (ADR) director Darren Olivier, the cost payment the ruling party has committed to will not boost government coffers by any considerable amount.

“It will probably only be a few thousand Rand I expect will go into the general budget rather than be ring-fenced for the SAAF (SA Air Force).

“I would hazard Minister Mapisa-Nqakula was scheduled to fly to Harare so the cost to the ANC will be determined as a marginal additional expense of flying them rather than the entire flight cost. I do not expect that to be much at all, possibly only a few thousand Rand to cover the small amount of extra fuel required, extra catering cost and extra administration costs for the additional passengers.

“Even if taking the ANC delegation saw the Falcon 900 used rather than the smaller Falcon 50 I don’t believe there will be any substantial difference, as SAAF operating costs and thus reimbursement rates of the aircraft are similar,” he told defenceWeb.