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ANC Envoys’ Air Force Jet ‘Lift’ to Zimbabwe Lands Them in Hot Soup

African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General Ace Magashule and members of the ANC National Executive Committee address a media conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 13, 2018.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has given Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula 24 hours to write a detailed report on circumstances that led the minister to share a flight to Zimbabwe with a seven-member delegation of the African National Congress (ANC), which was expected to discuss the political and economic crisis in the country with Zanu PF and other stakeholders.

In a statement following a public outcry over the use of state resources by the ANC delegation to resolve Zimbabwean issues, Ramaphosa said there is need for the minister to provide urgent details of the trip.

“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.

“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 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.”

Senior ANC officials who traveled to Harare aboard a South African Defence Forces jet are secretary general Elias ‘Ace’ Sekgobelo Magashule, Lindiwe Zulu, Gwede Mantashe, Tony Yengeni, Enock Gondongwana, Nosiviwe Nqakula, Nomvula Mokonyane and Dakota Lekgoete.

The opposition Democratic Alliance attacked Minister Nqakula for “giving a lift” to the ANC officials when they were not on state assignment.

Zulu told a local newspaper that they decided to use the jet because “we’ve got issues of national importance here. This is one thing that needs to be understood and be understood very clearly when there is a problem that has a negative impact on us as a nation … What is happening is not an impact on the ANC, it’s an impact on our people and our economy.”

Zulu and her colleagues returned to South Africa a few hours after they landed in Zimbabwe where they were widely expected to hold meetings with various political parties, church groups and some people about the deteriorating political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.

The leader of the delegation, Magashule, said they had frank discussions with representatives of Zanu PF and promised to engage other stakeholders within the next three weeks.

Zimbabwe maintains that there is no political crisis in the country though civic society groups and opposition parties claim that over 60 people have been arrested following the July 31 proposed anti-corruption protest that was thwarted by state security agents.

Zulu told another newspaper that they pressed Zanu PF to give details on many issues of local interest.

She was quoted as saying, “We have told Zanu-PF that what we see and what we hear does not really represent ourselves, including them, from the point of view of what we need to do as governing parties in creating a conducive environment for our people and running our economies to the point where they benefit our people.”

Zulu, Magashule and defence ministry officials were unavailable for comment.

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