ANC’s Zimbabwe trip in SANDF jet: DA wants answers from Ramaphosa

Ace Magashule. Image credit: Twitter/ANC

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has demanded answers from President Cyril Ramaphosa after an African National Congress (ANC) delegation flew to Zimbabwe in a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) jet this week.

The delegation was led by ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule and appeared to have been a party-to-party mission to meet with Zimbabwe’s ruling party ZANU-PF.

‘Abuse of state machinery’

In a statement on Thursday, DA MP and shadow defence minister Kobus Marais said, “The DA is absolutely disgusted by the ANC’s flagrant abuse of the state machinery, its deliberate muddying of state and party lines and the fact that the South African taxpayer had to sponsor this meeting between the two political parties.

“Not only do we call on President Ramaphosa to clarify this brazen corruption by his party, but the DA also calls on the ANC to immediately pay back the money that SANDF spent on transporting its party delegation to Zimbabwe.”

When the delegation returned on Wednesday evening at the Waterkloof Airforce Base in Pretoria, SABC News reporter Samkele Maseko asked Magashule whether they had abused state resources or not. “The answer is no,” Magashule replied tersely.

Zimbabwe has experienced political unrest in recent months over ZANU-PF’s perceived economic mismanagement and alleged corruption. Civil society activists, including journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, were arrested and subsequently released.

Special envoys

In August, Ramaphosa sent his special envoys Sidney Mufamadi, Ngoako Ramatlhodi and Baleka Mbete to meet Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

However, the mission was widely perceived as ineffectual because the envoys did not meet the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) alliance, Zimbabwe’s main opposition party. The Magashule-led ANC delegation similarly failed to meet opposition parties and civil society groups.

In a joint communiqué issued on Thursday, the ANC and ZANU-PF resolved to strengthen their “longstanding strong ties” as liberation movements.

“Crime and corruption should be confronted head-on, in both countries to ensure that our people have confidence in our Parties,” they agreed. They also resolved to exercise “vigilance over fake news and social media agenda setting for the two parties.”

“[We resolve] that economic sanctions and embargoes are one of the biggest albatross [sic] on the people of Zimbabwe and the economy and should unconditionally be removed.

“[We are] committed to self-introspection, renewal of values of trust, accountability, openness and honesty, and this should be the mainstay of our Parties’ resolve,” ZANU-PF and ANC said.

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