CAPE TOWN — South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has come under spotlight after some of its senior leaders were implicated in another corruption scandal related with improper deployment of public resources.
Calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to act immediately and discipline those involved mounted on Sunday when the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) accused some senior ANC leaders of breaking COVID-19 lockdown regulations by using a state military jet to travel to Zimbabwe without adherence to social distancing or permission to leave the country. A high-ranking ANC delegation comprising Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule flew to Harare, Zimbabwe in a state-owned jet last week. It’s understood that the trip coincided with a planned official visit by Mapisa-Nqakula to meet Zimbabwean officials to discuss defence-related matters in the region following a recent Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit. The trip drew widespread criticism as it was seen as a flagrant blurring of state and party lines and abuse of state machinery, which amounts to theft from the people by the ANC.
On Friday, Ramaphosa, “in the interest of good governance and the prudent and ethical use of state assets,” directed Mapisa-Nqakula to submit a detailed report within 48 hours on the circumstances that led to the minister sharing the flight to Harare, with the delegation. However, the DA demanded immediate action instead of waiting for Mapisa-Nqakula to compile a “report” in which she will explain why some ANC officials used the army’s aircraft. Merely calling for an investigation into the matter is not enough, the DA said.
Ramaphosa cannot seriously expect South Africans to rely on Mapisa-Nqakula’s office to conduct any trustworthy investigation, said Kobus Marais, DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans. No matter how the ANC spins it, the evidence is clear, and there is no justifiable motivation behind ANC senior members being on a state-funded visit to Zimbabwe, Marais said.
Meanwhile, the Organization Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) added its voice to the chorus of criticism against the improper deployment of public resources by some senior ANC members. OUTA CEO Wayne Duvenage said the trip had blurred the lines between the state and the ruling party. “There are rules in this country and when the government sets precedents like this, they’re going to have to do for what they did for the ANC for all parties,” he said. The trip had made a mockery of Ramaphosa’s drive to clean up the government, Duvenage said. The ANC has refrained from making comments on the accusation. The ruling party has been implicated in a series of corruption scandals in recent weeks when some ANC officials continuously made news headlines by flouting the law in issuing tenders for COVID-19 personal protective equipment to individuals associated with ANC leaders.
Ramaphosa has launched a campaign to clean up the party, which he described as Accused No. 1 in terms of corruption, although they may not stand alone in the dock. “We must acknowledge that our movement, the African National Congress, has been and remains deeply implicated in South Africa’s corruption problem,” he said in an open letter to ANC members last month.