In a statement on Wednesday, the DA said they had tried without avail to find out how much it had cost the taxpayer to send President Cyril Ramaphosa and his entourage to the Rugby World Cup final in Japan last year.
DA MP Kobus Marais said Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula had refused to publicly disclose the cost of a chartered aircraft, citing “security concerns”, which was allegedly the same strategy to avoid financial accountability during the Jacob Zuma era.
Marais said they would have to submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to force government to reveal how much was spent on chartering the flight.
“Whilst the RWC final was a momentous occasion for our country and it was necessary that Ramaphosa attended it, there are questions to be answered.
“The DA feels strongly that information about the cost borne by the public to jet President Ramaphosa in and out of Japan does not compromise the president’s personal safety, and has no repercussions of any kind on state security. South Africans have the right to know where and on what their public money is being spent.”
He alleged that government did not want South Africans to learn the truth about the costs.
“Furthermore, reports indicate there were individuals onboard the aircraft whose presence at the RWC was of questionable necessity. One such individual is Dr Gerhard Koornhof, the president’s parliamentary adviser.
“The actions of government in this regard, and the response by the minister, demonstrate a callous lack of fiscal responsibility and complete disregard for openness and transparency. This is unacceptable in the light of the fact that our national security budget continues to be cut, year after year. A far more ethical choice would have been for President Ramaphosa to have used a commercial airline with his personal security team on board with him,” argued Marais.
“What is further concerning is that the government under President Ramaphosa continues to display the same disregard for transparency as the government under former president Jacob Zuma did, when questions about the use of chartered flights and luxury private jets were continually blocked, citing ‘security’ concerns.”
Marais said it was “incredibly disheartening” that government could use such a “joyous moment in the lives of all South Africans” as an alleged excuse to overspend.
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)