President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered defence minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to provide him with a detailed report on the circumstances that led to the her sharing a flight Zimbabwe, with a senior delegation of ANC leadership.
The minister used an Air Force VIP plane this week to give ANC members – including social development minister Lindiwe Zulu, and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule – a lift to the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, ignoring level 2 lockdown regulations.
According to a report by the Sunday Times, the Department of Home Affairs is set to investigate whether the passengers that flew to Harare breached national lockdown rules. Under current lockdown laws, the country’s borders remain closed for ordinary citizens such as Magashule.
It said that home affairs minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi instructed his officials to conduct the probe on Thursday.
The paper reported that the meeting with Zimbabwe ’s defence and war veterans minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, lasted less than an hour. It said that the ANC has denied that the junket is an abuse of taxpayer funds, claiming that the visit was in the national interest.
It is believed that only two members of the delegation are in self quarantine following the trip.
The Democratic Alliance said that ANC party officials used a state military jet like an ‘Uber’ to Harare, on party business. The trip was an example of blurring of state and party lines and abuse of state machinery. “It amounts to theft from the people, by the ANC,” it said. “There is no indication of who paid for the delegation’s accommodation and other expenses.”
ANC official, Nomvula Mokonyane, told the Sunday Times that the trip was arranged by Luthuli House.
“I was called as part of a delegation of the ANC, so everything that was organised for the trip was done through the ANC … the department of international relations of the ANC has been the one that was responsible,” said Mokonyane.
Bloomberg reported the military as saying that the visit coincided with an official meeting that Mapisa-Nqakula held in Harare, and it incurred no additional expense taking the other party members along.
“The president notes the public discussion that has been generated around a flight to Harare by Minister Mapisa-Nqakula, who had permission to travel to Zimbabwe to meet her counterpart to discuss defence-related matters in the region following a recent SADC summit,” the presidency said in a statement.
“The president welcomes the interest shown by South Africans in this matter as an indication of the nation’s vigilance against allegations of improper deployment of public resources.”