Uproar over plans for Zuma’s new VIP jet
The Department of Defence has reportedly remained mum on the exact specifications of a brand new VIP jet rumoured to be considered for use by President Jacob Zuma.
On Sunday, CityPress reported that the defence force’s procurement agency, Armscor, had published basic tender details of a number of requirements which could see the plane topping at an estimated R4-billion.
“We don’t know how much it’s going to cost. Any talk about cost of such a capability is unfounded, groundless and baseless,” Defence Secretary Sam Gulube was quoted as saying.
According to the paper, details stipulate that the plane must be able to carry 30 passengers, have a range of 13 800 km without having to land for fuel, be equipped with an eight seat conference venue as well as a private bedroom and bathroom.
Citing sources within the aviation industry, the articles states that only a handful of aircraft are capable of travelling the set distance non-stop, neither of which are expected to be cheap in basic form.
In April, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula announced that the department would be spending R2-billion on the purchase of three VIP jets for international travels, as the existing presidential Boeing 737 Business Jet, known as Inkwazi, had been experiencing mechanical troubles resulting in the hiring of planes for Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Reacting to the report, Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Defence Kobus Marais said Zuma should publically call for the scrapping of the project as the country’s economy cannot afford “such a luxury”.
“While we appreciate that the President’s existing jet, Inkwazi, has been grounded from time to time due to mechanical problems, a R4-billion luxury VIP jet is not the answer,” Marais said.
“Last year, Gulube, told members of the Joint Standing Committee of Defence that “there is no plan for the department of defence to acquire VVIP aircraft.” Yet one year later, not only is the procurement set to go ahead, it is going ahead with alarming haste and at double the projected budget for the replacement of the President’s aircraft”.
He also added that the party would be submitting a motion to the standing committee on finding a more cost effective option, instead of having Zuma “jet-set across the globe at taxpayers’ expense”.
In a strongly worded reaction, Congress of the People (Cope) spokesperson Dennis Bloem said the planned purchase shows that Zuma’s administration had gone insane.
“It is a national disgrace that this government wants to waste so much money to indulge the President. With the national debt at R1.85-trillion, splurging on a jet is to break the camel’s back,” Bloem said.
“The Zuma administration is impervious to the hardships of the people at large. It is spending recklessly and leaving a mountain of debt to the next generation to pay off. The country simply cannot afford massive expenditure on vanity projects”.
IMAGE sourced from chariweb-defense.blogspot.com
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