Political parties up in arms over ANC delegation’s visit to Zimbabwe using SANDF military jet

SABC News ANC DELEGATION IN ZIM - Political parties up in arms over ANC delegation’s visit to Zimbabwe using SANDF military jet

The Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) says the African National Congress (ANC) delegation that went to Zimbabwe to have a meeting with their counterpart ZANU-PF broke the lockdown regulations.

The FF Plus also wants the ANC to pay back the cost of the trip to Zimbabwe which its delegation undertook on an SANDF military jet.

And the Democratic Alliance (DA) also wants an explanation from the President while the South African National Defence Union says there was nothing wrong with the ANC delegation getting a lift from the Defence Force due to the current circumstances.

The ANC delegation led by party Secretary-General Ace Magashule met with officials from the Zimbabwean governing ZANU-PF this week, following allegations of human rights violations in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

Explanation

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald says his party has laid two complaints and wants an explanation on how Home Affairs gave authorisation for ANC members to leave the country on a trip under lockdown.

“I already submitted a complaint to the Pubic Protector and I also submitted questions in Parliament because I want to see what the cost is and the ANC will have to pay that costs. They cannot misuse taxpayers money to promote and enhance party political aims and with counterparts in Zimbabwe. Secondly, they have violated the lockdown regulations. The regulations are very clear that only the minister for Home Affairs may authorise such visit to another country over international borders and it is also clear that it is only permitted in cases, for instance, if there is an emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition or for the evacuation of a South African national, or the repatriation of a foreign national to his or her country of nationality or for permanent residence. There is no provision for these sort of visits where the Minister of Home Affairs can then give permission. And therefore, we also want an explanation. Firstly, where such permission was given and on what basis.”

‘Separation between party and state’

The DA has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to clarify why an ANC-led delegation was able to fly to Zimbabwe using an SANDF Airforce jet.  DA Spokesperson on Defence, Kobus Marais also wants Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to be reprimanded.

“I think it is ludicrous. Since when do the jets of the Air Force give lifts to friends and colleagues and cadres? That is not the intention, not what the legislation says or what the constitution says. There must be a separation between party and state and this is certainly blurring the lines. It smells like corruption. I think it is very important that the Commander In Chief must show his leadership and he must reprimand the minister. He must come out and apologize to the country. He is not only the Commander In Chief of the SANDF. He is the President and he is also the leader of the ANC.”

‘Regional stability’

ANC Spokesperson Pule Mabe gave the party’s own explanation on why they had to get to Zimbabwe.

“The mission for which the ANC leadership was going to Zim was not an ordinary one. It had a lot to do with regional stability and for the ANC-led government to begin to work towards finding a solution. Instead of us looking at what was achieved by this delegation in Zim, all eyes have shifted on what was used to get to Zim? I thought that it was regional stability that we were foremost concerned about?”

The South African National Defence Union (SANDU) told SAfm that it does not believe that there is a problem with ANC officials using SANDF aircraft to fly to Zimbabwe.

SANDU’s National Secretary Pikkie Greef says, “I don’t think it is a problem, not in the context of this trip and I say that with the qualification that this trip is supposedly about containing the situation in Zimbabwe and discussing the concerns that we have on this side of the border and trying to be proactive. One can say well the airforce plane could also probably be used in certain circumstances, even though there are private individuals on it, it all depends on what the reason is for that trip. We must bear in mind the purpose of the trip and let’s be fair, there are no commercial flights to Zim in this lockdown level.”

Meanwhile, the EFF wants President Ramaphosa to immediately suspend Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, while the UDM wants her to resign.

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