By Mutsa Makuvaza
THE South African Ministry of Defence has said it found no evidence that a meeting ever took place in Harare between Zimbabwean Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and her South African counterpart, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, back in September.
The revelations are contained in an affidavit (see below) by Gladys Kudjoe, the SA Secretary for Defence, who confirmed that no minutes exist of the supposed meeting between Mapisa-Nqakula and Muchinguri-Kashiri, on 9 September 2020 in Zimbabwe and whatever might have been discussed was verbal at the least.
Mapisa-Nqakula got on board an SA airforce jet to travel to Harare to meet Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri in September.
She also took an African National Congress (ANC) delegation with her which was not part of the agreement.
The flight has since become a controversial topic whereby President Cyril Ramaphosa even requested a detailed report as to what happened.
Mapisa-Nqakula was also instructed that all the money had to be paid back to the State with immediate effect.
Opposition DA Shadow Minister of Defence Kobus Marais said that through a Promotion of Access to Information Act 2000 (PAIA) application, there is no evidence of the meeting.
According to the affidavit, a letter received from the Office of the Minister on 26 October 2020 stated that the meeting “was a verbal meeting and no minutes were recorded”.
The DA will submit the affidavit to the investigating officer.
Marais, in a statement, asked how there can be no minutes to such an important, urgent meeting that warranted the breaking of Ministerial handbook rules to attend it?
“It is common best practice to record meetings of Ministers on international missions, and surely a meeting deemed important enough to organise in a matter of days would not be the exception,” said Marais.
He went on to say that the only conclusion can be that such a meeting between the two Ministers never took place.
“The Minister and her ANC hitchhikers were never in Zimbabwe on State business. Their only business was only ever in service of the ANC and this meeting between Ministers Mapisa-Nqakula and Muchinguri-Kashiri were concocted in a poor attempt to fool the taxpayers who had to foot the bill for the abuse of State resources,” said Marais.
“Minister Mapisa-Nqakula has shown once again that she cannot be trusted to head a department as important as the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, or any department for that matter.
“This affidavit proves that the Minister is trying to cover her tracks and it is time she faced the music,” added Marais. ■