ANC jet scandal: Did Zimbabwe peacemakers break lockdown laws?

ANC delegation arrives in Zimbabwe

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is probing the African National Congress’ (ANC’s) trip to Zimbabwe to decide whether or not the attempt to mitigate civil unrest in the country constitutes a breach of Level 2 lockdown laws, the Sunday Times have reported.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has already ordered an inquest into the use of a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) jet to transport the team of ANC ministers, who were led on the special mission by Secretary-General Ace Magashule. The  SANDF jet was allegedly commissioned by defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

ZIMBABWE TRIP ‘BROKE LOCKDOWN LAWS’

Questions have been raised over the diplomatic mission, with a delegation of 10 ministers having made the trip to our neighbours in the north in the hope that they could garner a resolution to the ongoing political and civil unrest currently unfolding there.

It has since transpired that this group – the second delegation tasked with mediating in Zimbabwe since July – were also unable to make any progress, having met with the ruling ZANU-PF party but seemingly having not made any substantial progress in terms of convincing them that their country and people are indeed suffering untold social and economic misery.

Questions have been raised regarding the group’s adherence to lockdown laws, with only two of the 10 members having submitted themselves for the mandatory 10-day self-isolation required under the current version of the disaster management act.

The DHA investigation was confirmed by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s spokesperson, Siya Qoza, on Saturday, the Sunday Times reported.

“The minister is unable to fully respond to your questions at this stage as the matter is still under internal investigation within the department,” said Qoza to the newspaper.

‘ZIMBABWE TRIP WAS ORGANISED BY THE ANC’ – MOKONYANE

Current level 2 regulations stipulate that a plane cannot leave the country without permission from Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, however the one exception to this iron-clad rule pertains to SANDF planes, which can be deployed on missions of national interest by Mapisa-Nqakula.

ANC official Nomvula Mokonyane, who went along with the delegation to Zimbabwe, told the Sunday times that trip had been arranged by the ruling party from its headquarters at Lethuli House in Gauteng.

“I was called as part of a delegation of the ANC, so everything that was organised for the trip was done through the ANC,” she said.

“The department of international relations of the ANC has been the one that was responsible,” said Mokonyane.

She said that she has no idea whether or not hitching a ride on the SANDF plane, in a manner the Democratic Alliance (DA) have compared to ordering an “Uber”, was correct in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

“I am not saying there was never a requirement [to apply for a permit], all those details were organised through the ANC.”

RAMAPHOSA DEMANDS REPORT ON SANDF JET USAGE

Ramaphosa has ordered Mapisa-Nqakula to furnish him with a report on the use of the SANDF jet, and will be expecting this at some stage on Sunday 13 September.

“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 presidency said on Friday.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have described the incident with the SANDF jet as baring striking similarities to the infamous Waterkloof landing of a Gupta jet carrying wedding guests on 2016. They have called for Mapisa-Nqakula to be fired for her role in the procurement of the plane.

“It reveals an organisation whose corruption has gone on with such impunity that they now use military aircraft to conduct lift clubs. The ANC envoys to Zimbabwe have no right to utilise state resources to conduct their business and, furthermore, have no clearance to utilise military resources,” it added.