South Africa has weighed in on the ANC “humbling” itself after its delegation made use of an air force aircraft to travel to Zimbabwe, “ignoring level 2 lockdown regulations”.
The party this week came under fire and was accused of abusing state resources after its delegation landed in Zimbabwe last week on a 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 that 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 on Tuesday, Magashule said they had been in the wrong for using the state-funded jet and the ANC would reimburse the government for the trip.
“We travelled in an unusual manner and profusely humble ourselves where we went wrong during the lockdown and will reimburse the government for the costs incurred on behalf of our delegation,” said Magashule.
He said the delegation was under quarantine in line with government regulations to contain the spread of Covid-19.
It’s not so much about paying for the trip but the attempted cover up and deceit by the authorities
However, many South Africans, including UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, said the ANC’s offer to reimburse the government did not absolve Magashule and the rest of the delegation from wrongdoing.
“Why pay if you were given a lift,” he said. “It’s not so much about paying for the trip but the attempted cover up and deceit by the authorities.”
Holomisa suggested that Ramaphosa fire Mapisa-Nqakula for embarrassing the department of defence.
Former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa said the ANC should apologise with the minister taking the fall.
Radio veteran Redi Tlhabi also weighed in, saying it wasn’t about the cost but rather the actions of the party.
“It’s not about cost. It is about the inability of a 108-year-old party to discern between party and state. It is about being brazen enough to cross that sacrosanct line. It is about there not being one government or party official, who said ‘wait, this is wrong’,” said Tlhabi.
Here is a snapshot of what social media users had to say.