‘We were wrong’: Ace Magashule says ANC will pay for air force jaunt to Zimbabwe

The ANC has undertaken to reimburse the government for the costs incurred during its controversial use of an air force jet on a party-political mission, lead by Ace Magashule, to Zimbabwe last week.
The ANC has undertaken to reimburse the government for the costs incurred during its controversial use of an air force jet on a party-political mission, lead by Ace Magashule, to Zimbabwe last week.
Image: GALLO IMAGES

The ANC has undertaken to reimburse the government for the costs incurred during its controversial use of an air force jet on a party-political mission to Zimbabwe last week.

The undertaking was contained in statement issued by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule on Tuesday.

There was a public outcry last week after it emerged Magashule had led a party delegation to a meeting with Zanu-PF in Harare, and had been offered a lift on a state-owned jet by defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has since asked for a report from Mapisa-Nqakula on the matter, which she submitted by Sunday.

The Dispatch's sister publication, the Sunday Times reported that department of home affairs had opened its own internal investigation relating to how the ANC delegation left SA while lockdown regulations prohibit travel across borders without special permission.

It also reported that some members of the delegation did not follow lockdown rules as they failed to quarantine on their return to SA.

Magashule admitted on Tuesday that they had been in the wrong.

“In our quest to achieve this mission, we travelled in an unusual manner, and profusely humble ourselves where we went wrong during the lockdown. We will reimburse the government for the costs incurred on behalf of our delegation. Our delegation is under quarantine in line with lockdown regulations,” said Magashule.

The trip was meant for the ANC to meet their Zanu-PF counterparts over tensions in Zimbabwe.

Magashule said they gave a report back to ANC officials on Monday about the trip.

DA MP Kobus Marais said Ramaphosa had no option but to fire Mapisa-Nqakula after the ANC admitted to “shamelessly abusing an air force jet to travel to Zimbabwe to meet their Zanu-PF counterparts”.

“This was a gross violation of her oath of office, a dereliction of duty and

a complete disregard for ethical standards. She simply must go.”

The DA will lay a complaint with parliament's ethics committee against the minister in this regard.

“We call for the appointment of a panel of aviation experts to determine the full cost of the ANC’s trip to Zimbabwe, including the wear and tear on the aircraft and other associated costs. This information must be submitted to the auditor-general for full interrogation against departmental expenditure on the ANC flight.

“Given the ANC’s track record of thievery, the DA will not allow any stone to be left unturned.”

The DA said offering to reimburse the state did not absolve Magashule and his delegates, questioning whether transport minister Fikile Mbalula had approved the trip as per lockdown level 2 regulations.

“Like many law-abiding citizens who have had to pay fines and be criminalised by the government during the lockdown for simply going surfing or taking a jog, so, too, must ANC members be held to account.

“The ANC has for days brazenly denied any wrongdoing, but mounting pressure has proved inescapable. The DA sees this as a huge victory for SA in holding the ANC to full account for its nefarious and thieving ways.” TimesLIVE



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