The ANC on Tuesday said its delegation to Zimbabwe, which travelled for high-level inter-party talks, used an “unusual manner” and the party will reimburse the government for costs.
“In our quest to achieve this mission, we travelled in an unusual manner and profusely humble ourselves where we went wrong during the lockdown and will reimburse the government for the costs incurred on behalf of our delegation,” said ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
“Our delegation is under quarantine in line with our lockdown regulations.”
It has been confirmed public protector, advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, was probing the use of an SA National Defence Force (SANDF) aircraft by ANC officials for the trip to Harare last week.
Mkhwebane’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, confirmed she was investigating the matter, saying the African Transformation Movement (ATM) became the third party to lodge a complaint with her office after AfriForum and Freedom Front Plus.
The travel scandal has caused a furore in South Africa, with sections of society describing it as an abuse of the state apparatus by the ruling party.
Amid the uproar, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday gave Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula 48 hours to provide him with a detailed report on the circumstances that led to the minister sharing a flight to Harare with the senior delegation of ANC leadership.
Previously, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said the ANC’s delegation led by Magashule had taken advantage of Mapisa-Nqakula’s official trip to Zimbabwe by boarding the flight.
Speaking during the radio interview, Zulu said Mapisa-Nqakula had all the necessary authority and permission to travel outside the country and that they also undergone Covid-19 tests.
Zulu added the trip was to deal with issues of national importance to South Africa and Zimbabwe and that their talks with Zanu-PF were significant because the situation in Zimbabwe had a negative impact on South Africa’s own economy, security and social issues.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said the defence force did not need his permission to take trips as they were “in charge of the skies”.
According to Tyrone Seale, Presidency acting spokesperson, Ramaphosa has noted the public discussion that has been generated around a flight.