No spare cash, no Presidential jet - Cope

BY CHARL BOSCH - MAY 12, 2016

The Congress of the People (Cope) has called on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to intervene with the intended purchase of a new Presidential jet for President Jacob Zuma.

Addressing the National Assembly during the Department of Defence and Military Veterans’ budget speech on Wednesday, Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula stated that procurement plans are going ahead for the new jet, which is expected to cost in the region of R4-billion.

She however remained mum on the actual costs, merely stating that “we would never ever sit here and say we will spend R4-billion on an aircraft”.

Speaking in a statement, Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said Mapisa-Nqakula admitted to being aware of the problems facing the country’s economy, and should therefore put the jet lower on her list of priorities.

“In our reduced circumstances, affordability is the imperative of the moment. Our economy, under the poor and uninspiring leadership of Mr Zuma, is stagnant. The ruling party has to prioritise people over an executive jet,” Bloem said.

He also stated that the country has “literally started to burn”, referring to ongoing protest actions over a lack of service delivery and rising unemployment.

“Our expenditure must be aimed at holding society together. Mr Zuma has messed up the economy to a considerable extent. His firing of [former Finance Minister Nhlanhla] Nene cost the country billions. The national debt is over two trillion rand and soaring. If there is no spare cash available to purchase an executive jet, it must not be purchased”.