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Yes, South Africa’s president cut defence minister’s salary for misuse of air force plane on Zimbabwe trip

“South African president cuts minister’s salary over ‘misuse of air force plane’,” reads a screenshot of a tweet by the Cable, an online Nigerian newspaper, posted on Instagram on 28 September 2020.

It shows a photo of Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, South Africa’s minister of defence.

“Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president, has cut the salary of Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the country’s defence minister, over ‘misuse of air force plane’,” the Instagram post reads.

“A three-month salary cut was slammed on the defence minister after she allowed officials of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), to travel on the air force jet with her to Zimbabwe.”

Instagram is owned by Facebook, and the Facebook fact-checking system has flagged the post as possibly false. But it’s correct.

‘Salary sacrifice’ for three months

The tweet is real, posted by the Cable on 28 September. It links to an article on the paper’s website headlined: “South African president cuts minister’s salary over ‘misuse of air force plane’.”

In a 26 September press statement, the South African presidency announced that Ramaphosa had given Mapisa-Nqakula a “formal reprimand for conveying an African National Congress (ANC) delegation to Zimbabwe on an aircraft of the South African Air Force”.

“The President has further sanctioned the Minister by imposing a salary sacrifice on the Minister’s salary for three months, starting from 1 November 2020,” the statement reads. 

“Her salary for the three months should be paid into the Solidarity Fund, which was established to support the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

The president has also directed the ANC, the majority political party to which he belongs, to repay the state the cost of the 8 September flight to Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital.

Mapisa-Nqakula had permission to use the air force plane to fly to Zimbabwe on an official trip. But, the presidency said, “it was an error of judgment to use the plane to convey a political party delegation”.

According to the statement, Ramaphosa found that the minister:

  • did not act “in the best interest of good governance” as required by the executive members’ code

  • failed to adhere to legal prescripts warranting care in use of state resources

  • acted “in a way that is inconsistent with [her] position” as required  by the code

The news of Mapisa-Nqakula’s reprimand and sanction has been widely reported by local and international media. – Africa Check


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