Defence Minister’s Zimbabwe flight questioned again as extra costs revealed


Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula lost three month’s pay and the ruling party paid what it was told to for unauthorised use of government property in the form of an air force bizjet trip across the border but the “Zimbabwe flight”, as it is colloquially known, is not going away.

This is due to the fox terrier-like efforts of the Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister for Mapisa-Nqakula’s department, Kobus Marais.

The flight to Harare last September by Mapisa-Nqakula, apparently for a meeting with her Zimbabwean counterpart on defence matters in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), also carried an ANC (African National Congress) delegation. This was construed as unauthorised use of an SA Air Force (SAAF) asset in the form of a Falcon 900 bizjet (ZS-NAN) operated out of AFB Waterkloof by 21 Squadron. Marais resorted to the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for answers after President Cyril Ramaphosa decided losing pay for three months was “sufficient sanction” for his defence minister’s actions.

This came to light after the ruling party paid R115 000 as its share of the costs incurred on the flight to and from the Zimbabwean capital.

Marais has long maintained the costs given for the flight were not a true reflection of the amount involved and pursued the matter via a Parliamentary question to Mapisa-Nqakula.

She told him it cost just short of R80 000 in landing and parking fees in Harare for ZS-NAN and “consumables” in the form of food and drinks on the bizjet totalled R13 974.

“I was never happy with the costs given and this response by Minister Mapisa-Nqakula confirms there were additional costs to the tune of at least R89 876.

“Add that to the hundreds of thousands declared and there is definite abuse of state funds for party purposes,” Marais said adding “it is disgraceful when defence funding is wasted”.

“It’s not surprising National Treasury will not allocate more funding to the Department of Defence (DoD). Austerity should be the watchword in the current difficult financial situation South Africa is in but the Minister seemingly shows zero sensitivity and responsibility to redirect and re-prioritise funding to non-negotiable defence essentials,” he told defenceWeb.