South Africa: #JetGate - the President Is As Guilty As the Minister He's Protecting

press release

The laughable statement from the presidency last night, claiming that President Cyril Ramaphosa gave the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, "verbal" approval to travel to Zimbabwe on a luxury military jet, further implicates him in the wrongdoing.

The President has admitted to verbally giving the Minister permission to go to Zimbabwe on 8 September, the very day she went and a day after she had requested permission. President Ramaphosa has now dug an even deeper hole for himself as he has admitted that both him and the Minister disregarded the Ministerial Handbook which requires approval two weeks in advance.

It is the President's very responsibility, and legal duty, under his oath of office, to properly apply his mind to all of the legal requirements before giving approval. Instead of following this mandate, he verbally gave the Minister a blank cheque to do as she pleased.

It's also suspicious that after Minister Mapisa-Nqakula and the ANC delegation's return, and after public outrage had already been sparked, the President still chose to give written approval for this abuse after the fact. And as pressure mounted, the President was upset enough to demand a report from the Minister despite him approving the trip in writing when the cat was already out of the bag.

It would appear that not only had he neglected his duty before departure, but sought to cover the tracks after the delegation returned.

It also seems highly unlikely that the President of South Africa, who is also the leader of the ANC, would not know about this meeting between ZANU-PF and the ANC or how the delegation planned to travel to it as it was deemed important and urgent enough that a whole delegation which included two current Ministers had to attend. It is also important to note that Minister Mapisa-Nqakula's husband, Charles Nqakula, is an advisor to the President, increasing the unlikelihood that he had no knowledge of these transgressions.

In the same way the Minister was given a mere slap on the wrist for her role in this abuse, so should the President bear the burden for playing his part in furthering corruption in this regard. He should at the very least also be docked three months' pay. By washing his hands off this debacle, the President only proves his hypocrisy on corruption.

It is evident that this type of abuse of resources and disregard of due processes is a common occurrence in the ANC-administration. The Democratic Alliance (DA) will therefore continue to interrogate this gross abuse of State resources as this surely is not the first time the Defence Minister abused an air force jet as an Uber.

The DA will submit parliamentary questions to ascertain how often this deliberate exploitation of South African taxpayers have occurred.

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