'They deserve every voetsek hurled their way': SA reacts to ANC jet to Zimbabwe controversy

14 September 2020 - 10:25 By Unathi Nkanjeni
The SA Air Force VIP plane used by defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to give fellow ANC members,- including social development minister Lindiwe Zulu and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, a lift to Zimbabwe.
The SA Air Force VIP plane used by defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to give fellow ANC members,- including social development minister Lindiwe Zulu and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, a lift to Zimbabwe.
Image: Twitter

The ANC's latest controversy, involving its delegation taking a taxpayer-funded junket in an SA Air Force jet to Harare and 'ignoring level 2 lockdown regulations', has been met with mixed reactions.

The ANC has been accused of abusing state resources after its delegation landed in Zimbabwe last week on flight funded by taxpayers for a meeting with Zanu-PF.

The delegation led by party secretary-general Ace Magashule met officials from the governing Zanu-PF after allegations of human rights violations during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

TimesLIVE reported the delegation was given a lift by defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who had permission to travel to Zimbabwe to meet her counterpart to discuss defence-related matters in the region after a recent Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit.

President Cyril Ramaphosa gave Mapisa-Nqakula 48 hours to compile a report about the incident.

In a statement issued by the presidency, Ramaphosa said the incident put both the ANC and the government in the spotlight.

“In the interest of good governance and the prudent and ethical use of state assets, the president has directed the minister to provide a report within 48 hours that will set out the circumstances around the flight and the passenger list.” 

The president acknowledged the outrage over the incident, saying it is an “indication of the nation’s vigilance against allegations of improper deployment of public resources”.

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has defended the decision to transport members of the ANC.

SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said there was nothing inappropriate about the travel arrangements.

“[Mapisa-Nqakula] was travelling to Zimbabwe to meet her counterpart in preparation for a SADC Troika meeting and the UN reconfiguration of the Force Intervention, which comprises troops from the SADC region.

“The ANC delegation was going to deal with issues that are having a direct impact on SA. This is not a common occurrence and has never happened before,” said Dlamini.

Sunday Times reported that the department of home affairs would investigate whether the passengers who flew to Harare breached national lockdown rules.

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi instructed his officials to conduct the investigation on Thursday, a day after the ANC delegation landed back at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria.

According to reports, the meeting with Zimbabwe’s defence, security and war veterans minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, lasted less than an hour.

The ANC denied the junket was an abuse of taxpayer funds, claiming the visit was in national interests.

It is believed two members of the delegation are in self-quarantine after the trip.

On social media, users weighed in on the controversy.

Here is a snapshot of what many had to say.

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