Less than a week after an ANC delegation of 10 people hitched a ride on a Defence Force aircraft flying to Zimbabwe to hold unofficial talks with government officials there, and later said they would pay for its use, the Democratic Alliance is to lay criminal charges against them for abusing a state aircraft and flouting COVID-19 lockdown regulations. Like ordinary citizens who have to face legal repercussions of breaking lockdown rules, the DA said, the ANC leaders also have to.
Last Wednesday the party – which included Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu, ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule, NEC members Nomvula Mokonyane, Tony Yengeni, ANC’s head of economic transformation Enoch Godongwana, ANC spokesperson Dakota Legoete and ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe – flew on the SANDF plane. Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula later said she had given them a lift because she was heading there on official business.
🚨| A corrupt party in denial!
We have now formally laid criminal charges against the ANC-delegation for abusing a State aircraft – as well as for flouting lockdown regulations in their party's political trip to Zimbabwe.
Ace Magashule and his cronies must now face the law. 🚔 pic.twitter.com/BVxtgI0Jlx
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) September 16, 2020
After an outcry, President Cyril Ramaphosa demanded an explanation from the defence minister within 48 hours. The ANC shortly afterwards released a statement saying it would pay for the flight, which, said Kobus Marais, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Defence, means “They admitted to a crime and must now face criminal charges.”
The DA, which wants Ramaphosa to make public the defence minister’s response, also said it was clear that Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula had not given the party permission for the trip, which is required by lockdown regulations. The ANC group said, on their return, that they were now in quarantine.
“Just like ordinary South Africans who now bear the burden of potential criminal records for breaking lockdown regulations, the ten ANC delegates who undertook this illegal trip in an Airforce jet, must face the legal consequences.”
“It certainly raises suspicion that the ANC made such a dramatic U-turn on the matter after they defended the delegation’s use of the jet tooth and nail last week. The DA can only conclude that the report must contain something so explosive that the ANC hopes to bury it with platitudes and promises of repayment. We will do everything in our power to prevent that from happening.”