An appeal for Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) to investigate financial abuse allegations appears to be the route chosen by United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa rather than opening a case with police.
In the second of two letters addressed to the committee’s joint chairs, Cyril Xaba and Mamagase Nchabeleng, the former Transkei Defence Force (TDF) Major General stresses South Africans tend to take “their country’s defence far too lightly and for granted”.
He adds defence is a “sensitive” issue with a budget “already slashed to the bone, far too close in my opinion. We cannot afford to frivolously waste the little resources we have, as these allegations demonstrate, and even worse do nothing about them”.
Holomisa maintains his information shows “how it might be possible for the so-called top echelon of civilian oversight in the Department of Defence (DoD) to shamelessly milk at least one of its service providers”.
He wants one of Parliament’s two defence oversight committee to investigate, among others, Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s apparent abuse of DoD funds to “travel extensively in 2019 costing the taxpayer over R7 million, seemingly paid by AB Logistics, an Armscor division”.
The first, according to Holomisa, “was for a whopping R4 million charter flight from AFB Waterkloof to Cairo” with Mapisa-Nqakula then “strangely” returning home via King Shaka International airport. He asks: “Why would the Minister of Defence travel to Egypt, a country not quite on South Africa’s political radar? If maybe for an arms deal, surely a representative of Denel or Armscor would have been a better travelling salesperson?”
Other allegedly questionable spending of funds allocated to Mapisa-Nqakula’s ministry by National Treasury that Holomisa wants a closer look at include “a solo five-day stay” at a luxury hotel on New York’s Central Park and a further hotel stay, this time for six days in “the Deluxe King Suite of the Hotel Du Collectionneur Arc de Triomphe in Paris. That, he states, cost “just over R200 000 with an Avis transport bill of almost R150 000”.
When added to the R400 000 New York hotel cost, Mapisa-Nqakula spent over R850 000 in eleven days – “more money blown than the average well-employed South African will earn in four years”.
The former two-star general also details another apparent charter flight by Mapisa-Nqakula, this one to Angola, Guinea, Ghana and Togo.
“Astounding,” he tells the JSCD, “is the Minister also used this charter for the kind of inland flights which I doubt even the President does, for example, from Lanseria International Airport to Cape Town International Airport, on the first leg and on the last leg of the trip, a baffling flight from AFB Waterkloof to Lanseria, an approximately 60 km trip by car. This jaunt cost the taxpayer just over R2.5 million”.
At the time of publishing neither the JSCD or the DoD had made any public statements on Holomisa’s allegations.