Intended purchase of new Presidential jet to go ahead


The Department of Defence and Military Veterans has reportedly said it plans to push ahead with the purchase of a new Presidential jet for President Jacob Zuma.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday as part of the department’s budget vote, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said procurement plans for the new plane, which according to prior speculation will cost around R4-billion, is expected to continue although she remained mum on exactly how much it would cost.

“We’re adults and as adults, we are responsible; a government which is sensitive; we would never ever sit here and say we will spend R4-billion on an aircraft,” Eyewitness News quoted her as saying.

Last month, Defence Force Procurement Agency Armscor posted a number of requirements on its website, which, amongst others, includes the ability to transport 15 VVIP passengers and travel 10 000 km without having to be refuel.

Criticism by opposition parties against the intended purchase has continued to mount after Mapisa-Nqakula last year announced she had become “fed-up” with the lack of VVIP transport, as well as the ongoing breakdowns of the current Presidential Boeing 737 Business Jet, known as Inkwazi.

Earlier this year, suspected mechanical problems left Zuma and his delegation grounded in the Burundian capital Bujumbura, while Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa missed a gathering in Port Elizabeth due the problems resulting in his flight being rerouted.

Mapisa-Nqakula however indicated that new plane would not only be used by Zuma, but also those who succeed him when his term runs out in three years’ time.

“The VVIP aircraft is not being procured because President Zuma who will use it. There would be another president after Zuma retired in 2019, even if he was from another party”

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane has however reaffirmed that Zuma put the brakes on the plane’s intended purchase “as Inkwazi, in terms of aircraft standards, [remains] relatively new”.

“President Zuma ought to do the responsible thing and clarify this to the national via a public statement, and reverse the decision once and for all,” Maimane said in a statement.

“Given our current economic climate and our country’s record high unemployment crisis, South Africa cannot afford to spend R4 billion on a luxury jet for the President which he simply does not need”.