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DA fumes as Armscor puts out procurement details for new VVIP jet

By Charl Bosch - Apr 28, 2016
DA fumes as Armscor puts out procurement details for new VVIP jet

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has labelled South African National Defence Force (SANDF) owned procurement agency Armscor’s decision to publish tender details of a new presidential jet for President Jacob Zuma, as an “insult to poor South Africans”, which only constitutes wasteful expenditure.

According to reports, the agency last Friday posted a series of requirements on its website for the plane, which include transporting 15 VIP’s in comfort and being able to fly 10 000 km without landing for fuel. The tender is expected to close on May 4th.

In February, it was reported that procurement plans for the plane, believed to be worth R4-billion, had started in earnest following a series of breakdowns to the current Presidential Boeing 737 Business Jet, known as Inkwazi, which left Zuma and his delegation stranded on a number of occasions.

A similar fate befell Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this month, when the plane had to be rerouted on a flight from Mpumalanga to Gauteng due to mechanical troubles, while similar problems prevented him from attending an event in Port Elizabeth in March.

The releasing of the tender details comes after Armscor CEO Kevin Wakeford last year denounced allegations that it was in the process of acquiring a new plane.

“I don’t know where the R4-billion comes from, because quite frankly we cannot afford it. We are looking at a whole variety of options. The affordability will determine the selection of the eventual solution and financing options,” Wakeford said at a media briefing in Pretoria.

Speaking in a statement, DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Kobus Marais said there are no viable reasons for a new plane to be purchased, as Inkwazi remains underutilised and with commercial air travel offering a better alternative.

“There is simply no justification for spending money on an presidential aircraft while we face major problems such as a grossly underfunded higher education system and an impending food crisis brought on by the drought,” Marais said.

“The decision to proceed with the lease of another presidential jet yet again shows that President Zuma and the ANC put themselves first and the people of South Africa second. The needs of ordinary South Africans should be the priority of government –not wasteful expenditure on President Zuma and his entourage”.

Weighing in to the debate, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said Zuma must personally step in and prevent the purchase of the jet from going ahead.

“R4 billion is equivalent to 16 Nkandlas! That’s not his money. It is public money,” he told supporters at a Freedom Day event held in Zandspruit in Gauteng on Wednesday.

“I’m sure President Zuma will say that he didn’t ask for the jet, just like he says he didn’t ask for Nkandla. This is nonsense, and we will never accept it. He must come out and publicly instruct the government to stop this order immediately. It is wasteful, unnecessary, corrupt and totally inappropriate in the middle of all of the struggles our people are facing”.