If the ANC delegation was able to resolve the political crisis in Zimbabwe, that could justify their use of a state aircraft.
And it is possible that Ramaphosa’s political foe, Ace Magashule, will use the controversy over the ANC delegation’s trip to Harare last week to “throw Cyril under the bus”, because the president reportedly authorised the flight in a South Africa Air Force (SAAF) executive jet.
It would serve Ramaphosa’s enemies well (those around Magashule and former president Jacob Zuma) to embarrass him and expose him to scrutiny not only by the public protector, but also the opposition parties that are already shouting on the sidelines about the trip.
At the weekend, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane confirmed that she had received two complaints from the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) and AfriForum.
The two organisations want her to investigate the use of state aircraft for the purposes of the governing party, but Mkhwebane is yet to decide whether to pursue the matter or not.
Ramaphosa gave Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula 48 hours come up with a written explanation for the trip. The deadline expired yesterday.
Zimbabwean media reported on Friday that the delegation was sent to the country by Ramaphosa himself.
Magashule was accompanied by ANC international relations subcommittee chair Lindiwe Zulu, economic development subcommittee chair Enoch Godongwana, former chair of the parliamentary defence portfolio Tony Yengeni, former minister of water and sanisation Nomvula Mokonyane and Mapisa-Nqakula.
It is believed that they went to Harare to persuade the governing Zanu-PF to enter into talks with the opposition to end the political tension that has resulted in violent protests, arrests of state opponents and police brutality.
Politics professor at the University of South Africa Dirk Kotze said the Zuma/Magashule camp would continue with their campaign to oust Ramaphosa until the 2022 ANC national elective conference.
They would employ every available excuse to strengthen their case against him. However, the analyst said it was unlikely that Ramaphosa had authorised the trip to Zimbabwe.
Kotze said there was a blurred line between the state and the party in this case because the purpose of the ANC visit was also of interest to the state.
The professor said if the ANC delegation was able to resolve the political crisis in Zimbabwe, that could justify their use of a state aircraft.
He added the challenge posed by Zimbabwean immigrants was serious, so it was a matter of interest to South Africa, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union, of which Ramaphosa was the current chair.
“In this case they will argue that there is a grey area or the line is blurred because the ANC meeting would also help assist the country.
“If the ANC delegation made progress, it’s in the interests of South Africa so SADC and AU entitled them to use the state plane to go there,” Kotze said.
Another analyst, Professor Susan Booysen, said it was likely that Mapisa-Nqakula would come up with an acceptable explanation.
“One can assume the minister will come up with a good explanation. She explained the Gupta landing at Waterkloof. She has this way of explaining things.”
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