Mapisa-Nqakula’s Zimbabwe trip with ANC officials ‘constituted improper conduct’

The Public Protector's office found that the former Defence Minister's conduct breached the Constitution.

Public Protector investigation / Defence and Military Veterans

National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in Sandton on 2 February 2022. Picture: Gallo Images/Daily Maverick/Felix Dlangamandla

Acting Public Protector, Kholeka Gcaleka has made adverse findings against National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, regarding her official 2020 trip to Zimbabwe.

The Public Protector’s office had investigated allegations of improper conduct and maladministration after receiving five complaints into the flight.

Mapisa-Nqakula, who is the former Defence and Military Veterans Minister, had allowed senior ANC officials to travel on a South African Air Force (SAAF) flight to Harare in September 2020.

The delegation had included Ace Magashule, Lindiwe Zulu, Nomvula Mokonyane, Enoch Godongwana, Tony Yengeni and Dakota Legoete.

‘Improper conduct’

Releasing a report into the matter on Friday, Gcaleka found that the flight was “in violation of applicable legal prescripts”.

“Ms Mapisa-Nqakula neither had the authority or the permission to ferry the ANC delegation in an SANDF [South African National Defence Force] aircraft that was approved to transport herself and her staff to and from Harare, Zimbabwe, for an official meeting with her counterpart as approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa,” she said.

The Acting Public Protector also said Mapisa-Nqakula’s conduct was in breached of Section 96(2)(c) of the Constitution, which states that “members of the Cabinet and Deputy Ministers may not use their position or any information entrusted to them, to enrich themselves or improperly benefit any other person”.

“[This is] in a sense that state resources were inappropriately used to improperly benefit a political party.

“Accordingly, Ms Mapisa-Nqakula’s conduct constituted improper conduct as envisaged in the Constitution and maladministration as contemplated in the Public Protector Act,” Gcaleka added.

‘Financial prejudice’

Gcaleka further found that the Department of Defence and Military Veterans “suffered financial prejudice” as a result of Mapisa-Nqakula’s conduct.

“The state incurred travel financial costs as a result of the trip to and from Harare. The department has since calculated the amount due by the ANC [which is] R105 545.46. On the 30th of September 2020, the ANC reimbursed the department the said amount for the cost incurred for their delegation,” the Acting Public Protector continued.

She added that The Speaker’s conduct “constituted an improper advantage and unlawful enrichment” to the ANC “as envisaged in the Public Protector Act”.

RELATED: DA wants minutes of meeting between Mapisa-Nqakula and Zimbabwean counterpart

“To appropriately remedy this improper conduct, maladministration, unlawful enrichment or receipt of improper advantage, the president must, within 30 days of receipt of this report, give an instruction for the issuance of a directive for compliance with the Ministerial Handbook, in terms of Section 85(2) of the Constitution, to handle the practice of giving lifts to ensure that Cabinet members and Deputy Ministers act within confides of the Constitution at all times when dealing with state resources.”

No remedial action, however, will be taken to Mapisa-Nqakula since Ramamphosa had already directed that her salary be docked for three months.

“Furthermore, no remedial action is being taken in respect to the recovery of the costs of the trip from the ANC,” Gcaleka concluded.

Some parties had called for Mapisa-Nqakula to be fired at the time the allegations surface, but Ramaphosa defended the Speaker, saying she made an “error in judgement“.

Post published in: Africa News

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