AFRIFORUM has laid a complaint with the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane asking her to probe the possible abuse of state resources after a delegation of ANC heavyweights used a South African National Defence Force Airforce jet for a bilateral engagement with Zanu-PF in Harare, Zimbabwe, earlier this week.
The delegation included ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule, the party’s national chairperson Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu and Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, as well as five of the ANC NEC who were scheduled to meet with ZANU-PF central committee.
AfriForum says its legal representatives have also written to Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperative Government, as well as to Mapisa-Ngakula, who was part of the visit, requesting them to explain whether the Air Force plane had been used lawfully.
According to Monique Taute, Head of AfriForum’s Anti-Corruption Unit, Section 80(3) of the Defence Act 42 of 2002 determines that Defence Force assets may only be used under exceptional circumstances other than protection of the country.
These circumstances must adhere to certain requirements.
“First, the use thereof must be in the public’s interest. Second, the Minister of Defence must approve the use of the assets in consultation with the Minister of Finance,” said Taute.
“With its investigation, AfriForum wants to ascertain whether the correct channels were followed and whether the use of state assets had been authorised. “We cannot allow members of the ruling elite to misappropriate state assets as if it is their own property. We will take the matter further if it seems that politicians violated legislation.”
Magashule had denied that the trip amounted to the abuse of power.
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said on Thursday that he will also lodge a formal complaint with the office of the public protector after Mapisa-Nqakula offered her ANC colleagues a lift on an SANDF aircraft to Zimbabwe.
Groenewald slammed the ANC in a statement on Thursday for breaking the lockdown rules by travelling to Zimbabwe and further said the party should pay back the costs of the flight.
The DA has called on President Ramaphosa, as the Head of the ANC and Government as well as the SANDF Commander-in-Chief, to make a public statement and answer questions related to the debacle. “We also call on the ANC to immediately pay back the money that SANDF spent on transporting its party delegation to Zimbabwe,” said Kobus Marais, DA Shadow Minister of Defence.
“The DA calls for full explanation of exactly who the ANC members met with and what the purpose of the meetings were. We also want to know where they stayed during their visit to Zimbabwe and who footed the bill for their accommodation and other expenses? The DA will continue to investigate this outrageous incident.”
(COMPILED BY INSIDE POLITICS STAFF)