Opposition parties want Minister to resign over “smuggling” of Burundian friend

BY CHARL BOSCH - MAY 23, 2016

The Congress of the People (Cope) has joined the Democratic Alliance (DA) in calling for Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to step down after she admitted over the weekend to have transported a Burundian woman on fake passport back to South Africa two years ago.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Mapisa-Nqakula stated she had been touched by the life story of then 20-year old Michelle Wege, and that her sole intention was to “save her from abuse, and give her education and love”.

According to the paper, Mapisa-Nqakula personally asked for Wege to be given the relevant documents from the Congolese ambassador, after her attempts to board a South African Airways (SAA) flight failed when authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) became suspicious when she was unable to speak or understand French or any tribal languages.

It was discovered that her passport had been faked and that the Minister’s sister had been the Deputy Ambassador to Burundi at the time.

Wege was subsequently picked-up by Minister and her entourage in DRC, before accompanying her to Addis Ababa to attend an African Union Summit Meeting. She was then dropped off at the Waterkloof Air Force Base and taken to Mapisa-Nqakula’s house in Johannesburg where is reported to still be.

Speaking in a statement, Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said while the party respects the Minister’s intentions, it does not deter form the fact she violated the Constitution by allowing a civilian on-board a military plane.

“In place of a constitutional democracy, the ANC is now subjecting South Africans to a regnant democracy with a regnant elite reigning supreme as hereditary kings and queens who are not subject to the common law,” Bloem said.

“For a department that was pleading gross insufficiency of resources only last week, this wastefulness is a smack in the face for the under resourced army asking Treasury for more money. However noble her intentions, she violated the Constitution [and] can no longer remain in office”.

In a follow-up reaction, DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Kobus Marais said Mapisa-Nqakula misused her position to obtain favours from local and international authorities, and that party would submit an application for her to appear before Parliament’s Ethics Committee for violating her oath of office.

“We understand that the Minister may have been acting on compassionate grounds, however she cannot act as a law unto herself, and we reiterate our call for a full investigation of this incident,” Marais said.

“Failing to do so will set a precedent for members of the Executive to act outside the law and without impunity which is at odds with the provisions in our Constitution that prohibit such conduct”.