The DA wants to see the minutes of the meeting between Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and her Zimbabwean counterpart, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, during a visit last month.
Mapisa-Nqakula met with Muchinguri-Kashiri on 9 September, only two days after she requested the meeting. This meeting happened on the same date as the one between ANC officials and Zimbabwe’s governing party, Zanu-PF. The ANC officials travelled with Mapisa-Nqakula on board an SA Air Force Falcon 900 jet to Harare.
The meeting between Mapisa-Nqakula and Muchinguri-Kashiri lasted about two-and-a-half hours, while the ANC and Zanu-PF meeting lasted about nine, according to Mapisa-Nqakula’s draft affidavit to the Public Protector.
Accompanying Mapisa-Nqakula was Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, and civilians Ace Magashule, Nomvula Mokonyane, Tony Yengeni, Enoch Godongwana and Dakota Lekgoete, all senior ANC members.
After a public outcry, the Presidency last week released Mapisa-Nqakula’s reports to President Cyril Ramaphosa and documentation relating to the visit. The details from these documents sketch a picture of a hastily arranged official visit after the ANC resolved to meet Zanu-PF.
DA MP and spokesperson on defence Kobus Marais said in a statement on Monday Mapisa-Nqakula’s report to Ramaphosa “gives rise to the suspicion that she is simply conspiring to hide the ANC’s abuse of state resources behind this meeting”.
He said on Monday:”We believe that the minutes of this meeting will reveal what we all suspect – that this meeting was nothing more than a ruse by the minister to hide the fact that the whole trip to Zimbabwe was solely in service to ANC politics and had nothing to do with the business of government.”
“Nowhere in her report to the president does she give any feedback on a meeting deemed so urgent and critical that it could not be conducted over a virtual platform and had to break the rules of the Ministerial Handbook which requires approval two weeks in advance.”
Included in Mapisa-Nqakula’s documents is a draft affidavit to the Public Protector, in which she states that the ANC delegation, which included her, met with Zanu-PF from 10:00 to 19:00 on 9 September.
She said at about 16:30, she and Muchinguri-Kashiri broke away to have their official meeting, which lasted until about 19:00 before they addressed a press briefing on the meeting at 19:30.
She also attached a copy of a report by the Zimbabwean news outlet ZBC News on the briefing.
Marais said it seemed clear the ANC wanted to visit Zimbabwe, but was unable to do so due to its current financial constraints and then “decided that they are above the rules and regulations governing normal South African citizens”.
“And instead of rebuking this blatant abuse of state resources and being steadfast in fighting corruption – as he so recently promised to do again – the president went along with the subterfuge because it is simply impossible that President Ramaphosa had no idea what the members of his party and Cabinet were up to.”
Ramaphosa reprimanded Mapisa-Nqakula and docked three months of her salary after he considered the reports and documentation and found she had made an “error in judgement”.
This is not enough for Marais.
“They should both suffer the consequences of their actions. Neither’s hands are clean. Those in the ANC that organised this abuse are as guilty as those who partook, and those who tried to cover it up. The ANC should pay back all the money for the flight, and not just a small percentage calculated by a minister who has already proven that she would put her party before her country.”
Marais said the DA would submit parliamentary questions about the meeting and request the information via the Promotion of Access to Information Act.