ANC’s hitchhike to Zim on air force plane costs it R105,000

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The SA Air Force has slapped the ANC with a R105,000 bill for the controversial lift the party got from defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to Zimbabwe this month.

The figure is contained in documents President Cyril Ramaphosa made public on Wednesday, something he said he did in the interests of “transparency”.

The documents Mapisa-Nqakula submitted to Ramaphosa show that the one-day trip to Zimbabwe in September, in which she offered “to ferry” an ANC delegation to Harare on a party-political mission on the jet, cost the taxpayer R232,000 in total.

The ANC is now responsible for settling R105,000 of the bill for the transportation of its seven-member delegation, while the balance will be treated as normal costs to be incurred for flying the defence minister and her support staff to a meeting with her Zimbabwean counterpart.

In her report to Ramaphosa and an affidavit to public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, Mapisa-Nqakula said she should “in hindsight” not have offered a lift to an ANC delegation.

On Saturday night, Ramaphosa issued an official reprimand to the minister and docked her three months’ pay.

In justifying her actions, Mapisa-Nqakula said: “Given that my official visit to meet my Zimbabwe counterpart had been approved and that the ministerial handbook … allows me to attend to party political engagement in these circumstances, and the fact that the costs incurred for the SAAF flight will remain the same whether it is just myself on the plane or others join me, I extended the invitation to ferry the ANC NEC members.”

She cited Covid-19 and lack of commercial flights for offering a lift to senior ANC members.

This is according to a supplementary report Mapisa-Nqakula submitted to Ramaphosa on September 22 as held her accountable over the controversial trip.

“I agree in hindsight that it would have been prudent to inform your office in writing of my intention to ferry ANC NEC members, of which delegation I formed part to meet with Zanu-PF counterparts,” she said.