The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said on Thursday that Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula travelled to Zimbabwe for official work and gave her ANC colleagues a lift.
This, after the party was accused of abusing state resources by using a government-sponsored jet to conduct party business. It used a South African Airforce jet to travel to Harare to meet Zanu-PF, where they agreed that there was no “crisis” plaguing Zimbabwe, but that the country faced “challenges”.
In an interview with the SABC, party secretary-general Ace Magashule, who led the delegation, denied that it amounted to an abuse of power.
On Thursday, defence spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said the ANC meeting coincided with Mapisa-Nqakula’s official work.
“The meeting of the ANC in Zimbabwe coincided with the meeting of the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, who was travelling to Zimbabwe to meet her counterpart in preparation for a SADC Troika meeting and the UN reconfiguration of the Force Intervention, which comprises troops from the SADC region,” he said.
Dlamini said allowing an ANC delegation to travel along with the minister has never happened before.
“The ANC delegation was going to deal with issues that are having a direct impact on South Africa. This is not a common occurrence and has never happened before,” he said.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe referred questions to Dakota Legoete, who was not available for comment.
The delegation left the Waterkloof Air Force Base on Tuesday evening, on ZS-NAN – an air force jet allocated for VIPs.
An ANC delegation was visiting Zimbabwe to help find a solution to the country’s political and economical crisis. It is the second attempt, after a first meeting between the party and Zanu-PF failed to yield any results.
They spent the day in meetings at the Zanu-PF headquarters in Harare and returned on Wednesday evening.
The delegation included Magashule, Mapisa-Nqakula, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, Nomvula Mokonyane, Enoch Godongwana, Tony Yengeni and Legoete.
They met a six-member Zanu-PF team, led by its secretary-general, Obert Mpofu.
Following the meeting, Mpofu denied there was a crisis in Zimbabwe and blamed false information on social media.
“Fugitives are responsible for some false information being peddled out there. There is no crisis in Zimbabwe,” he told a media briefing on Wednesday evening.
Mpofu said it was a “no-holds-barred meeting among comrades and friends”.
Magashule said they agreed that there were “challenges” in Zimbabwe that must be confronted.
The parties agreed to convene and meet regularly to discuss issues of mutual concerns.
“As liberation movements we should respect human rights. We respect freedom of association and freedom of speech,” Magashule said.
Magashule added that the ANC would return to meet with other stakeholders.