ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule adresses the media at Lithuli House, Johannesburg June 4 2019. Picture: ALON SKUY
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule adresses the media at Lithuli House, Johannesburg June 4 2019. Picture: ALON SKUY

The ANC says it has paid back the R105,545.46 it owed the department of defence after its delegation was transported to Zimbabwe on an SA Air Force jet.

Spokesperson Pule Mabe confirmed that the money was reimbursed by the party on Thursday.

The ANC and the government came under heavy criticism in September when it emerged that the delegation flew on a state aircraft to Harare with defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

The ANC delegation included party secretary-general Ace Magashule and national executive committee members Gwede Mantashe, Lindiwe Zulu, Tony Yengeni and Enoch Godongwana.

In the wake of the uproar over the flight, the ANC said it would reimburse the state the cost of ferrying its delegation to Zimbabwe.

At first the department defended the trip on the grounds that the delegation was hitching a flight with the minister, who was on an official trip, and that their mission was important for the national interest.

The minister had a business meeting with her Zimbabwean counterpart, but was also part of the ANC delegation that met members of the governing Zanu-PF party.

Mapisa-Nqakula was then ordered by President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide him with a report about the circumstances that led to the ANC delegation flying to Zimbabwe with her on an SAAF jet.

Ramaphosa has since reprimanded the minister over the saga and instructed that she take a three-month salary penalty. Her salary will be paid into the Solidarity Fund, established to tackle needs arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

An invoice for the flight was attached to Mapisa-Nqakula’s report, which was made public this week, and showed that the ANC would have to pay R105,545.46 to the defence department.

This was in excess of the costs the minister would have incurred on her trip to Zimbabwe.

In her report, the minister also defended transporting the ANC delegation, saying she was not aware that she needed to get specific permission. She said it was a regular occurrence in the use of the SAAF’s aircraft to provide for the ferrying of businesspeople or the like if all were travelling to the same destination and the aircraft were being used for official government purposes.

Mapisa-Nqakula is also expected to appear before parliament's portfolio committee on defence to account for the trip and the ferrying of the ANC delegation.

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