Hlengwa tells Ramaphosa: Silence on ANC junket to Zimbabwe will entrench corruption

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  • The IFP says the ANC's blunder in allowing a party delegation to fly to Zimbabwe on an airforce jet has proven, yet again, that it cannot separate party from state.
  • In an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the conflation of party and state broke down democracy.
  • The ANC announced this week that it would reimburse the government for the trip.

The ANC's junket to Zimbabwe on a defence force plane has sent a clear message to the public that the party and the state are inseparable.

That's according to IFP national spokesperson and MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa, who said, in an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, that the fundamental constitutional crisis of conflating party and state did not require a financial solution.

READ | SANDF says defence minister went to Harare for official duty and gave ANC colleagues a lift

"It requires bold presidential leadership to effect consequence management and stern presidential reprimand to set the tone that such is totally unacceptable and inconsistent with the Constitution which, by and large you, Mr President, midwifed for our democracy," he said.

The letter follows the ANC's decision to reimburse the government for the trip to Zimbabwe on an airforce jet.

Opposition parties slammed the ANC after Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula admitted she gave an ANC delegation a lift. The delegation was heading to Zimbabwe to meet with Zanu-PF leaders.

Ramaphosa also wrote to Mapisa-Nqakula on Friday and demanded a response within 48 hours. He is yet to comment on the report.

Hlengwa, who is also the chairperson of Parliament's Standing Committee on Accounts (Scopa), said the continued conflation of party and state broke down democracy, the rule of law and efforts to clamp down on corruption.

READ HERE | ANC trip to Zimbabwe: Ramaphosa enters the fray, demands report from Mapisa-Nqakula within 48 hours

"It is, once again, another case of déjà vu. Yet another incident in which the members of the ANC are above the rule of law and cannot be held accountable. The 'Animal Farm Syndrome', where all political parties are equal but some are more equal than others, is in direct conflict with the Constitution and grinds against the grain of multi-party democracy," Hlengwa said.

He added that, in any normal and functional democracy, Mapisa-Nqakula would have stepped down by now.

"The only plausible explanation is that it is the ANC's national executive committee – of which you form part – that decided to send a delegation of ANC members along with the minister, Mapisa-Nqakula, using state-funded resources; as up to now it is not clear why the bilateral meetings of both the ANC and ZANU-PF or that of the ministers were not held virtually. The official government trip was properly timed to coincide with the ANC delegation trip; and it was you, Mr President, who approved the minister’s trip, whilst also being party to the ANC decision to dispatch a delegation at the same time."

He said: 

"The irony and synchronisation of events cannot be lost. The conditions for a perfect storm were created."

Hlengwa also said it was not the first time Mapisa-Nqakula transgressed.

"No explanation given by the minster regarding the 'lift' she gave to the ANC can ever justify the continued and deliberate failure to separate party and state. The coincidence of the trip is too glaring to peg it as a 'lift'. Therefore, when the facts of the matter are so obvious, to propose further investigations would amount to obfuscation or kicking for touch to avoid acting," he said.

Hlengwa said the scandal put Ramaphosa in the dock, as president of the ANC and of the country.

"Inaction on your part would aid and abet the continued entrenchment of corruption in our national body politic. It would erase the line you have drawn in the sand. The ball is in your court, Mr President," he said.

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