Government breaks silence on Ramaphosa’s Gupta jet

BY CHARL BOSCH - OCTOBER 6, 2015

Government has defended Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s use of a private jet belonging to the government connected Gupta family, citing the unavailability of a plane from its usual supplier as the main reason.

Responding to a Parliamentary question from Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Deputy President Floyd Shivambu, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said the hiring of the Bombardier Global Express 6000 from private carrier ExecuJet, was the result of regular supplier, Fortune Air, being unable to supply a plane that could travel to Japan while only stopping once for fuel.

Nene said this resulted in the South African Air Force (SAAF) having to adopt its transversal contract, known as contract RT61, which allows for the use of VIP and VVIP aircraft and helicopters by an entity appointment by National Treasury of which ExecuJet was listed as supplier.

“To ensure value for money, SAAF requested other quotes outside of Contract RT61. These quotes were, however, more expensive than the rates offered by ExecuJet on Contract RT61. SAAF therefore decided to use ExecuJet,” Nene said in an entry on Politicsweb.

He also added that the various processes in obtaining the plane had been followed as stipulated by contract RT61 and that Rampahosa only became aware of the plane’s owners when he arrived back in South Africa on August 28th.

Speaking at a media briefing two days later, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the procurement procedures did not call for the plane’s owners to be mentioned, and that two of the department’s regular VVIP planes were either in use or deemed unsuitable for the trip.

It has been reported that the jet belongs to an investment firm owned by the controversial family, and features President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane as a director.