November 27, 2020

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ANC jet saga: Mapisa-Nqakula defends controversial Zim trip

2 min read

If you’re expecting Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to express any more regret over giving members of the African National Congress (ANC), a lift to Zimbabwe on an SANDF jet, don’t hold your breath. She appeared before the National Assembly on Wednesday, 18 November 2020, answering questions from MPs.

“The reality is that I burned the same amount of fuel. I think from a human point of view it would have been very selfish of me to jump into an aircraft alone and fly to Zimbabwe, leaving people who are dealing with the same issues I was meant to deal with,” she said.

Mapisa-Nqakula caught fire from MPs and President Cyril Ramaphosa for giving a ride to her fellow comrades, who were jetting to the neighbouring country to engage the ruling Zanu-PF party, amid a rising political and economic crisis. The minister said she was merely giving the delegation, led by party secretary-general Ace Magashule and NEC members Nomvula Mokonyane and Tony Yengeni, a lift.

Months after the scandal, the minister said the move was nothing out of the ordinary.

“I have been made to feel like I woke up in the morning, I took an aircraft, and I went to the Livingstone to see the waterfalls, I did not do that,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

“It would have been very selfish of me to just jump into an aircraft alone and fly to Zimbabwe leaving people who were also going to Zimbabwe to deal with the same issues which I was meant to go and deal with,”

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Mapisa-Nqakula: ‘I didn’t go to Zimbabwe on a tour’

The Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane subsequently launched an investigation, which Mapisa-Nqakula said she welcomed.

“…it shouldn’t be that I just jumped into an aircraft, crossed the river and went to Zimbabwe on a tour,” she said.

Under immense pressure to take action against the minister, Ramaphosa diplomatically read the Mapisa-Nqakula the riot act, finding that she had made a judgement error by allowing a party delegation to board the jet.

He also announced he would be docking her salary for three months, starting in November.

“Her salary for the three months should be paid into the Solidarity Fund, which was established to support the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic,” the presidency said at the time.

The total cost of the trip was R230 000, which the ANC paid back.