No Public Protector sanction for Mapisa-Nqakula’s 2020 Zimbabwe flight

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Current National Assembly (NA) Speaker and former defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was “sufficiently sanctioned” for the Zimbabwe “taxi flight” two years ago to escape further penalty by the Public Protector.

The sanction of three months’ salary, imposed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, is noted in the report released on Friday, 30 September, alongside a substantiation that she ferried an ANC delegation to and from Harare, Zimbabwe, in an SA Air Force (SAAF) aircraft in violation of applicable legal prescripts as well as other prescripts. The Public Protector deemed the salary docking as sufficient punishment.

The report, with the laboured title of “An investigation into allegations of improper conduct and maladministration relating to the former minister of defence and military veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s official trip to Zimbabwe in September 2020”, was prompted by five complaints to the Chapter Nine institution. They included African Transformation Movement (ATM) parliamentarian Vuyolwethu Zungula; Freedom Front Plus (FF+) leader and MP, Pieter Groenewald, and AfriForum legal specialist Willie Spies.

Allegations against the current NA Speaker include “undertaking an international trip” when South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown status expressly prohibited this and that she used the flight for “party political gain” in that ANC (African National Congress) members were aboard the 21 Squadron Falcon 900 (ZS-NAN).

In the report, acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka agrees with Ramaphosa’s conclusion his former defence and military veterans minister’s “error of judgment is not in keeping with her responsibilities as a Minister of Cabinet”  and that she did “not act in the best interest of good governance”.

As a member of Cabinet, Mapisa-Nqakula “had a duty to ensure state resources are used only for the advancement of state interests and a person in her position should be alive to this reality and exercise due care”.

Current Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise moved into the ministerial suite of offices in the Armscor building in August last year with Mapisa-Nqakula replacing her as NA Speaker.