The ANC and Office of the President have dismissed allegations of abuse of power by the DA over the use of a state aircraft during the ANC’s recent gathering in Mpumalanga.
This comes after a City Press article suggested that the ministerial handbook made no provision for the president and his deputy to make use of the South African Air Force (SAAF) aircraft for non-official state activities.
On Monday, the DA accused President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy Paul Mashatile, of having used the SA Air Force aircraft for ANC-related party activities.
According to DA shadow minister of defence and military veterans, Kobus Marais, both Ramaphosa and Mashatile used the aircraft for ANC-related travel to Mpumalanga ahead of the party’s January 8 Statement.
“The DA condemns the continued exploitation of the ambiguity between the Ministerial Handbook and the Presidential Handbook by President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Deputy, Paul Mashatile – whereby they regularly commandeer South Africa Air Force (SAAF) aircraft to attend ANC party political events. Their recent infraction relates to the 10 trips that they undertook in the lead up to the ANC’s January 8 Statement in Mbombela, Mpumalanga,” Marais said.
According to Marais, the SAAF VIP Falcon aircraft was used at least 10 times by the two leaders and their guests, as they travelled to Mbombela Stadium, more than a week ago.
“The attached flight history shows flights undertaken in the SAAF’s VIP Falcon F50 aircraft by Ramaphosa, Mashatile and their guests to attend a series of political meetings in Mpumalanga before the ANC’s main event at Mbombela stadium. This provides clear evidence that the ambiguity in the Presidential Handbook was not only being abused but was now being deliberately exploited to turn the SAAF into a taxi service for ANC political party purposes.
“As listed on the attached flight schedule, Ramaphosa and Mashatile undertook 1 flight between CTIA and Kruger International on the 5th of January 2024 and a further 9 flights between Kruger International and AFB Waterkloof in Pretoria, all under the call sign LMG2. Of serious concern is that they were seemingly accompanied by ANC political party officials and guests with no clear link to their official work as President and Deputy President, in clear violation of the spirit of the Presidential handbook,” Marais added.
However, ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri, dismissed the complaint, and told the Star that the party would not be distracted as it prepares for the upcoming elections.
“Our main focus is to win elections with an outright majority. With its 112 years of experience, the ANC knows how to stay focused,” Bhengu-Motsiri said.
Presidential spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, slammed the DA for trying to play political mind games with the people of South Africa, adding that a lot of lies were peddled by opposition political parties and shoddy journalists.
“A lot of lies have been peddled about the president’s travel due to shoddy journalism and a rush by some political parties to politicise it.
“The president and the deputy president needed to travel. The issue is not the reason for their travel. There’s also nothing wrong or illegal in them travelling for ANC meetings or celebrations. The ANC, through a constitutional democratic process, is the governing party of this country. So let’s not de-legitimise the president and the deputy president attending to their party obligations regardless of how some choose to characterise them,” Magwenya said.
When it comes to the Presidential Handbook, Magwenya said it did not specify how the President is supposed to travel to non-official events.
“The Presidential Handbook does not prescribe the nature of their travel that must be supported by the Air Force, because they never stopped being President and Deputy President regardless of where they are.
“The DPSA guide for members of the executive in terms of scope only covers the ministers, deputy ministers, premiers and members of the executive council (MECs). This is where City Press got it wrong,” Magwenya added.
However, the DA begged to differ, saying: “The handbook makes no provision for the use of the SAAF for the transportation of members of the executive and political party functionaries for party political party purposes. Ramaphosa and Mashatile’s actions are not only irresponsible and inappropriate, but also show unbridled abuse of state resources.”