Home South African Explosive dossier claims Defence Minister ‘living like a queen on taxpayers’ dime’

Explosive dossier claims Defence Minister ‘living like a queen on taxpayers’ dime’

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UDM leader Bantu Holomisa has submitted another dossier alleging that taxpayers are sponsoring Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula “life of luxury”

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Picture: Jacques Naude, African News Agency (ANA)

DEFENCE Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has a lot to answer for after UDM leader Bantu Holomisa submitted another explosive dossier alleging that her expensive taste cost the taxpayer over R7 million on questionable chartered flights and luxury hotel accommodation.

The dossier, submitted to the chairpersons of the parliamentary joint standing committee on defence last month, follows another letter to the same committee in which Holomisa alleged that Mapisa-Nqakula “extorted” more than R5 million from a South African National Defence Force service provider.

In his new submission, Holomisa included alleged WhatsApp communications between the minister and the unnamed SANDF service provider. He also submitted invoices that show that “Mapisa-Nqakula extensively travelled in 2019 which cost the taxpayer over R7 million”.

According to the letter, the trips and expenses include:

* A R4 million chartered flight, in April 2019, from Waterkloof Air Force Base to Cairo in Egypt. The minister then strangely, returned home via King Shaka International Airport.

* Mapisa-Nqakula took a solo five-day stay at the Marriott Essex House, which is a luxury hotel on Central Park in New York, in September 2019, which cost almost R400,000.

* The minister stayed for six days, using the 50m2 Deluxe King Suite, at the Hotel Du Collectionneur Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France and her hotel bill, together with that of three departmental attachés, ran to just over R200,000, with an Avis transport bill of almost R150,000.

* She also chartered aircraft, this time to Angola, Guinea, Ghana and Togo.

“Why would our Minister of Defence travel to Egypt, a country that is not quite on South Africa’s political radar? If maybe for an arms deal, surely a representative of Denel or Armscor would have been a better travelling salesperson? One wonders whether the Egyptian doors, which the minister had allegedly demanded that the service provider finance for her Bruma home, had not been purchased on this trip?” Holomisa asked.

“What is particularly astounding is that Minister Mapisa-Nqakula also used this charter for the kind of inland flights which I doubt even the president of this country does i.e. from Lanseria International Airport to Cape Town International Airport, on the first leg of the trip, and on the last leg of the trip, a most baffling flight from Waterkloof Air Force Base to Lanseria International Airport. The latter is a ±60 km trip by car. This merry jaunt cost the taxpayer just over R2.5 million.”

Holomisa added that “these WhatsApp conversations appear to corroborate, at the very least, that Mapisa-Nqakula had indeed asked the SANDF service provider under discussion for wigs at several points in time.

“I would like to specifically draw your attention to the three extracts below, where you will notice the use of the traditional healers’ lexicon and even the blatant reference to a payment in the 9 December 2018 chat. These alleged conversations between these two parties conclusively adds to the ‘where there is smoke there is fire’ argument in this entire debacle.”

The letter also adds that “given these corroborative elements I have mentioned, I do believe that the committee had more information at its disposal that would justify its investigation of the allegations, not only the authenticity of the WhatsApp conversations themselves, but that there might be truth to the previous allegations.”

On Saturday, the minister’s spokesperson, Siphiwe Dlamini, said Mapisa-Nqakula is ready to explain herself before the joint committee on defence “should she be required to appear and explain herself regarding the Honourable Holomisa’s allegations.”

“The minister wants to reiterate the challenge put to Mr Holomisa a week ago that if he has evidence of extortion in his possession he must open a criminal case with the police or any law enforcement agency. It is strange that he continues with such allegations and yet has not found it necessary to go and report the matter to the law enforcement agencies.”

Dlamini added that all of the minister’s travels abroad are reported yearly and contained in all annual reports of the department, which is a public document and is deposited in Parliament and can be accessed by any member of the public.

“There is no correlation between the minister’s trips and the allegations Holomisa has made. The member is holding on to straws to justify his allegations and be sensational,” he said.

Holomisa said on Saturday that although he is tempted to open a corruption charge against Mapisa-Nqakula with the police, he will wait for the joint standing committee on defence to deal with the matter first.

“I will wait for the committee to deal with the matter first and probably take the outcome of their investigation when I eventually go and open a corruption case against the minister with the police.” he said, adding that the “saddest part” was that taxpayers were “sponsors of the minister’s life of luxury”.

Holomisa said he hopes Mapisa-Nqakula will explain to the committee “how she lives like a queen on taxpayers’ dime”.

Holomisa added that he didn’t write to President Cyril Ramaphosa because the minister’s husband, Charles Nqakula, is the national security adviser for the president.

Ramaphosa was forced to dock three months salary from the minister last year after she allowed ANC members, including secretary-general Ace Magashule, to fly on a defence plane to Zimbabwe for a non-governmental meeting.

After the Sunday Independent first published a story about Holomisa’s first letter on April 4, the defence ministry issued a press statement the following day stating that the minister “takes note of the weekend reports about allegations as contained in a form of a letter written by Holomisa to the co-chairpersons of the joint standing committee on defence.”

But instead of answering any of the allegations contained in the letter, the statement said: “It is the minister’s view that such allegations as serious should be reported to any law enforcement agencies including the National Prosecution Authority (NPA).

“Furthermore, the minister challenges the author of the letter in the name of Holomisa which has been circulated to various media to open a case with the law enforcement agencies and bring evidence to allow the matter to be ventilated in a court of law. Therefore, Holomisa must have the resolve to report the matter to the police or any other agency if he believes in what he has written in his letter and the information at his disposal.”