Defence Minister and her deputy no high flyers in the gifts and hospitality stakes


The civilians appointed by SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Commander-in-Chief, President Cyril Ramaphosa, are not high flyers in the accepted sense with both Minister Thandi Modise and Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla not reporting out-of-the ordinary issues for inclusion in Parliament’s latest Register of Members’ Interests.

Modise reports 700 shares in insurance giant Sanlam and no directorships, partnerships, consultancies, “retainerships” or sponsorships.

She lists 10 items under gifts and sponsorships of which six are from Malawi. They are a bottle of Malawi gin, a litre of Sobo juice, 100 Chombe teabags and two packets of Farmer’s Pride rice. All, according to the Register, are from “Minister of Defence Commander in Chief of the Armed and Police Forces” with no country specified.

In addition to three houses in Mafikeng, Roodepoort and Edenvale, Minister Modise also owns a 448 hectare farm in Potchefstroom. In 2014 she was charged with animal cruelty relating to pigs and other livestock on the property. The case was brought to court by AfriForum’s private prosecuting unit in a private prosecution in 2021 and she was found not guilty with charges dropped. At the time, Modise was North West provincial premier and subsequently returned to the National Assembly (NA) as Speaker before taking over the defence and military veterans portfolio from Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Deputy Minister Makwetla’s interests list is even more spartan than Modise’s, with zero involvement in directorships, partnerships, consultancies, “retainerships” or sponsorships and just three gifts.

All three are from the military in the form of Defence Reserves, a R350 bottle of whiskey; a “framed picture of Cape Town” from Fort Ikapa Reserve and a cowhide from CArmy, presumably incumbent Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is peripherally part of the wider government defence sector as its Denel representative.

He, according to the register, holds shares in companies involved in banks, chemicals, “general industrials”, health care providers, investment banks, personal care, pharmaceutical and biotechnology, real estate, retailers, software and computer services, telecommunications and tobacco.

One of two books he reports as gifts is “Joining the Dots, an unauthorised biography of Pravin Gordhan” by Chris Whitfield and Jonathan Ancer, published by Jonathan Ball. In addition, Gordhan lists a chess board set from the same publisher, and a “small display” of SAA aircraft valued at R400.