The African Transformation Movement (ATM) has lodged a complaint with acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka.
It has asked her to investigate Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane for possible violation of the law over the landing of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) royal family at a military base in Bulembu, Eastern Cape.
The royals’ visit to the Eastern Cape has sparked controversy, with many questioning the procedures followed.
A can of worms has now been opened as it emerged Motsoaledi may not have registered his intentions before his decision by publishing a notice in the government gazette for public comment.
The government-owned airport – built by the former ruler of Ciskei, LL Sebe, during the apartheid era – was decommissioned for passenger travel under the democratic government and has since been utilised by the military and police’s airwings for exercises.
However, villagers around the rural airport were left stunned when UAE Boeings, C-17 military cargo aircraft and the presidential jumbo jet landed between 16 and 19 April.
Mabuyane and Motsoaledi both face huge backlash from political parties who believe they may have broken laws to secure the smooth passage of the UAE president and 500 other people.
In his letter to Gcaleka, ATM leader Vuyo Zungula said:
He also took a swipe at Mabuyane in the same correspondence, saying he “seemingly put undue pressure on various parties to achieve his objective of letting in foreigners without following due process”.
Zungula said while Motsoaledi’s claims that he relied on Section 9(3)(b) of the Immigration Act of 2002 for his declaration, there was nothing in that section which dealt with declarations of airports as ports of entry.
In addition, he added that the minister made no reference of complying with provisions of Section 30(3) of the Border Management Authority Act, which requires him to have published a notice in the gazette for public comments for a period of no less than 30 days, prior to him issuing such a declaration.
The Department of Home Affairs confirmed it allowed aircraft to enter the country directly from the UAE to the Eastern Cape.
Motsoaledi said he acted in line with the Immigration Act in making the decision.
The Eastern Cape premier’s office confirmed it made the application to Motsoaledi to allow the visitors to land at the airport by turning the aerodrome into a temporary international port of entry.
UAE president and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, brought with him 500 people, who included members of his family, soldiers, and staff members.
He also brought military choppers, a fleet of luxury cars, supplies and furniture.
It was understood the ruler insisted on landing near his newly acquired safari resort, about 150km from the airport by car, News24 earlier reported.
The Department of Home Affairs and Office of the Premier assured the media everything was above board regarding the bizarre landing activities.
The DA also entered the fray, challenging Motsoaledi about compliance with the Immigration Act of 2002 and the Border Management Authority Act of 2020, asking for evidentiary proof he complied with the law in designating the airport as a temporary port of entry to facilitate inbound immigration entry to the UAE president and his entourage.
The party said while Section 9(A) of the Immigration Act of 2002 gave the minister authority, in the prescribed manner, to “… designate any place in the Republic, which complies with the prescribed requirements, where all persons have to report before they may enter, sojourn or remain within, or depart from, the