Modise named and shamed for not responding timeously to questions

2224

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise has been singled out as a “chief culprit” for not timeously answering Parliamentary questions.

Her accuser was National Assembly (NA) Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, herself previously an occupant of the most senior office in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ministry overseeing defence and the wellbeing of old soldiers.

Media reports have it Modise, who recently gave parliamentarians some insight into February’s tri-nation naval exercise with China and Russia, is what can be termed a serial offender when it comes to responding to questions asked by NA public representatives. According to Mapisa-Nqakula, as reported by Johannesburg digital daily TimesLive, Modise still has to answer 27 questions.

“Mapisa-Nqakula embarked on the naming and shaming exercise just before ministers in Cabinet’s social cluster were about to take oral questions in the NA, saying from now on she will throw the rule book at wayward ministers. She said it was astounding one written question which remained unanswered by the end of the parliamentary term in December 2022, since lapsed in terms of parliamentary rules, was put on the question paper in March 2022,” was how the publication put it.

One who is not surprised by Modise’s tardiness when it comes to providing answers is Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais. Following a Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) meeting where he planned to quiz her on Exercise Mosi II, he was twice disappointed. Firstly, by the non-appearance of the minister and secondly when her deputy, Thabang Makwetla, opted out of replying on her behalf.

Marais still awaits an official explanation for the December port call by Russian cargo vessel, Lady R, in Simon’s Town, SA Navy (SAN) fleet headquarters. Since being reported as saying she was waiting for “papers” regarding the seemingly clandestine port call, Modise has been as quiet as the proverbial church mouse on the Lady R, only saying the vessel was delivering ammunition for the Special Forces under a years-old order.

Being remiss is responding to questions is not the only responsibility Modise seemingly shirks.

Inquiries by Mimmy Gondwe, DA shadow deputy minister of public service and administration, found the Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV) is one of 17 national departments, including The Presidency, failing to comply with regulations on implementing and conducting lifestyle audits for public service employees.

A Gondwe statement has it “lifestyle audits for public service employees were introduced to report conflicts of interest and red flags pertaining to lifestyle discrepancies. When criminality is detected, a case must be opened with the SA Police Service (SAPS), with notification to the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI, better known as the Hawks)”.

The departments of defence and military veterans are separately listed in the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) response to Gondwe. Others who make the list include National Treasury (Department of Finance), Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) and Correctional Services.