Home South African Ramaphosa defends use of SANDF helicopter to attend ANC event

Ramaphosa defends use of SANDF helicopter to attend ANC event

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With a cloud still hanging over him following the damning report on the Phala Phala farm scandal, President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended his use of an SANDF helicopter to do ANC work in the Free State, saying the air force was responsible for his air transport.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended his use of an SANDF helicopter to do ANC work in the Free State. File picture: ANA

CAPE TOWN – With a cloud still hanging over him following the damning report on the Phala Phala farm scandal, President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended his use of an SANDF helicopter to do ANC work in the Free State, saying the air force was responsible for his air transport.

In October, the DA lodged a complaint with the Office of the Public Protector alleging that Ramaphosa misused state resources for party political purposes.

This after the president landed in Welkom in an SANDF Oryx helicopter to participate in the ANC’s Letsema campaign and engage with local ANC branches.

“It is of grave concern that the SANDF, a supposedly impartial organisation, is involved in politicking. The ANC has repeatedly shown its disregard for the separation of party and State and is wilfully misusing taxpayer money to fund its own campaign,” DA MP George Michalakis said at the time.

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DA leader John Steenhuisen wrote to Ramaphosa enquiring whether he had used a SANDF helicopter to fly to Welkom to participate in an ANC campaign and engaged with local ANC branches on October 8.

Steenhuisen also asked about the purpose of the trip and what provisions within his private office permitted the use of public resources for party political purposes.

In his response, Ramaphosa confirmed that the South African Air Force transported him to Welkom on the day.

“The SAAF is responsible for the air transport of the president and deputy president, regardless of the purpose of the travel, as mandated by a Cabinet memorandum of May 1994,” he said.

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula recently had her salary docked and the ANC paid a portion of its share of the cost for the lift she granted them to meet with the Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe while she was defence minister.

The cost of the trip was R232,000 and the ANC portion was R105,000.

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa has defended the ministerial handbook saying the state was required to ensure that political office-bearers, including ministers, deputy ministers, premiers and MECs were provided with resources and enabling facilities to perform their duties effectively.

“The guide for members of the executive provides a framework to manage the extent to which the State provides these tools of trade. The adoption of the guide is not done in terms of any legislative provision, but is the result of a Cabinet decision that the tools of the trade need to be defined and regulated.”

The president was responding to Steenhuisen, who had asked what legislative provisions he had relied on to allow for the existence of the ministerial handbook.

Ramaphosa said the determination of tools of trade took into account the nature of the work or duties to be performed by members of the executive.

“These tools of trade include official and private accommodation, offices, office supplies and stationery, ICT, support staff, travel facilities and security.”

In October, Ramaphosa ordered the withdrawal process of the ministerial handbook for 2022 following public outrage after it emerged that amendments were made away from public scrutiny.

Asked what had made him introduce a new provision to the ministerial handbook allowing members of the executive to use unlimited amounts of taxpayer money to settle water and electricity bills at their official residences, Ramaphosa said amendments were proposed and approved in April after discussions in Cabinet.

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