Parliamentary defence questions stand, replies are new Minister’s responsibility


She is no longer minister of defence and military veterans but that doesn’t mean Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula “escapes” the responsibility of parliamentary questions.

A ministerial task team appointed by her to investigate the apparent illegal acquisition of Cuban drugs to inhibit the coronavirus continues its work, albeit with a new reporting authority in the form of Thandi Modise.

defenceWeb confirmed from two separate sources in the National Assembly (NA) that questions posed to a specific minister are in fact directed to the ministry concerned. One said: “When a new minister is appointed, questions still need to be answered as, in the case of Mapisa-Nqakula, questions were asked of her with information for responses coming from Department of Defence (DoD) or SA National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel”.

Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister for the defence and military veterans portfolio, Kobus Marais, said much the same adding he was informed the delay in answers being provided to written questions was due to Parliament’s recess period – now over.

“I and other parliamentarians await responses to quite a few questions with Parliament again in session,” he said.

UDM (United Democratic Movement) leader Bantu Holomisa chose not to go the Parliamentary questions route for information on apparent financial abuse by the former defence minister. In April he wrote two letters Cyril Xaba and Mamagase Nchabeleng, joint chairs of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) asking the oversight committee to investigate, among others, Mapisa-Nqakula “travelling extensively in 2019 costing the taxpayer over R7 million, seemingly paid by AB Logistics, an Armscor division”.

Earlier this year the former defence minister sought input from South Africa’s intelligence community for her task team on the reportedly illegal R260 million Cuban drug acquisition. Former Intelligence director general Zola Ngcakani, former director general in The Presidency Cassius Lubisi and former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) director general Billy Masethla were given six months to complete their investigation into the apparently SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) sanctioned purchase of the Cuban medication which is not registered with South African health regulatory authorities.

Marais said there is “at this stage” no indication of when and where the ministerial task team’s report will be tabled “but you can be sure questions will be asked if it’s not forthcoming”.