The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to produce the minutes of the meeting between her and her Zimbabwean counterpart, the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Opah Muchinguri-Kashiri, on 9 September 2020 in Zimbabwe.
We will also submit parliamentary questions in this regard and request the information via the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).
The DA has serious reservations over the meeting and whether it even took place at all. 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.
This is supported by reports that an official of the Zimbabwe Aviation Authority confirmed to The Star newspaper that "the reception at the airport was prepared for 'ANC guests' and not the minister of defence."
The Minister's own report to President Cyril Ramaphosa further gives rise to the suspicion that she is simply conspiring to hide the ANC's abuse of State resources behind this meeting. 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. A meeting so crucial that the Minister and the President both felt it prudent to break Covid-19 lockdown regulations, both before their ANC delegation took to air, and after their return. And yet, not important enough to warrant even the slightest mention of how the meeting went.
It seems clear as day that what actually happened was that the ANC wanted to visit Zimbabwe, but was unable to do so due to their current financial constraints and 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.
The Minister and the President are complicit in this abuse. Instead of being transparent, asking for forgiveness, promising to do better and facing the consequences of their actions, they tried to cover up their misdeeds with President Ramaphosa going as far as throwing Minister Mapisa-Nqakula under the bus. 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.