The South African Defence Minister and her counterpart the African National Congress secretary general flew into Zimbabwe on one flight last week. The presence of the ANC delegation on that flight has caused a huge political storm so much so that the President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa demanded an explain, in writing, why she accommodated the six member ANC delegation on her flight to Harare.
By Cassius Sande
On September 9 the South African Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula had a meeting in Harare with her counterpart in preparation for a Sadc Troika meeting.
Coincidentally, on the same date, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and his delegation were meeting a six member Zanu PF delegation led by Obert Mpofu at Zanu PF headquarters in Harare.
The two delegations took off from Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria on Tuesday evening heading for Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare.
Technically, when Magashule came to Harare, it was not an official government visit, but it was one liberation political party in South Africa (ANC) paying a visit to another liberation political party in Zimbabwe (Zanu PF).
And on those grounds, he and his delegation should not have flown on the South Africa Air Force aircraft on their journey to Harare. However they did, and are now being accused of abusing power and state resources by using a military plane to conduct party business.
However, Lindiwe Zulu, who was part of the delegation to Harare has said the situation in Zimbabwe is a case of national importance which warranted party members to travel using state resources.
Even though the ANC delegation merely took a lift, the Ramaphosa has demanded and has since received a detailed report from the Defence Minister explaining the circumstances under which Magashule and his delegation used the air force jet to fly to Harare.
The ANC has now issued a statement undertaking to reimburse the government for the costs incurred during its controversial ride on the air force jet across the Limpopo River after a public backlash.
A panel of aviation experts will be put together to determine the full cost of the trip.
Flying the two delegations together make a lot of economic sense since it was a practical cost cutting measure. Doubt if the presence of the ANC members on board may have increased the cost of the flight to and from Harare. Moreover the DF-900 with a capacity of 18 had adequate space to comfortably take both the Mapisa-Nqakula and Magashule delegations to Harare and back home.