By Samkelo Mtshali
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, who also chairs the ANC’s subcommittee on International Relations, has said that the party’s delegation that went to Zimbabwe this week on a state Air Force jet had to take advantage of Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s official trip to Zimbabwe.
In a radio interview earlier today, Zulu said that the ANC’s delegation led by the party’s Secretary General Ace Magashule had taken advantage of Mapisa-Nqakula’s meeting with her Zimbabwean counterpart by boarding the state jet.
Zulu said that Mapisa-Nqakula had all the necessary authority and permission to travel outside the country and that they had even done their Covid-19 tests.
She said that the trip was to deal with issues of national importance to both South Africa and Zimbabwe and that their talks with Zanu-PF were significant because the situation in Zimbabwe had a negative impact on South Africa’s own economy, security and social issues.
“The ANC always travels on its own, we pay our own (flight) tickets, we get accommodation whether we are going to Mozambique, Angola, Namibia or even if we’re going to the Sudan, we always go on our own but right now we have pressing issues between ourselves and Zimbabwe in general and Zanu-PF.
“We had to ask if we could go with Minister Mapisa-Nqakula, which we did and they gave us the opportunity to go there because we couldn’t drive to Harare, we can’t fly to Harare any other way, this was the way,” Zulu said.
Mapisa-Nqakula is no stranger to issues around using state aircraft for non-state related purposes.
In 2014 she smuggled Michelle Wege, a Burundian national, into the country in a state air jet, as she assisted Wege to escape from the Democratic Republic of Congo where she had been detained after allegedly attempting to board a flight to South Africa with fraudulent documents.
DA MP and its spokesperson defence Kobus Marais questioned why President Cyril Ramaphosa had remained “absolutely silent” and ignoring urgent calls to speak up and take action against his fellow senior ANC cadres.
“Ramaphosa is both Commander in Chief of the SANDF, and head of the ANC, and thus enjoined to make an urgent public statement on how his party has illegally benefited from an aircraft of the state he leads.
“Less than two weeks ago, Ramaphosa announced with great fanfare that the “ANC will be drawing a line in the sand against corruption. Yet, the President has not said a single word about his Party’s most recent transgression,” said Marais.
On Thursday Monique Taute, AfriForum’s head of Anti-Corruption Unit, said that the organisation had launched an investigation into the alleged misappropriation of Air Force assets by high-level members of the ANC and that it would also take legal steps if it came to light that state assets were used by the ANC unlawfully.
“First, the use thereof must be in the public’s interest. Second, the Minister of Defence must approve the use of the assets in consultation with the Minister of Finance.
“With its investigation, AfriForum wants to ascertain whether the correct channels were followed and whether the use of state assets had been authorised. We cannot allow members of the ruling elite to misappropriate state assets as if it is their own property. We will take the matter further if it seems that politicians violated legislation,” said Taute.
Ministry of Defence spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini had still not responded to written questions at the time of publishing. Political Bureau