DA objects to VIP jet spend

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The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party has objected to the lease of a VIP jet for President Jacob Zuma, which will cost at least R100 million.

In response to a parliamentary question the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, indicated that R100 million has been “allocated for the leasing of the VIP-configured jet for the 2016/17 financial year.”

This equates to R273 972 per day for the lease of a presidential jet for Zuma, the DA pointed out. “There can be absolutely no justification for such extravagance while the South African economy is under extraordinary fiscal pressure and facing a potential ratings downgrade. If President Zuma is serious about stabilising our economic outlook then he must personally set an example of restraint, and order the Minister not to proceed with plans to lease the aircraft,” the DA said.
“In the latest batch of replies to questions relating to Zuma’s travel costs, the Minister again refused to make the information public for ‘security reasons.’ This is a desperate attempt to prevent the public from knowing just how much the President is wasting on luxurious travel considering that under President Mbeki, detailed information about flights was provided to Parliament including the routing, flying hours, landing fees and catering costs for every flight,” the DA said.

The Sunday Times reported on 11 September that the South African Air Force plans to spend about R500 million on an 18-month lease of a second VIP jet for Zuma in a stop-gap measure while the Air Force buys a second presidential jet at an estimated additional cost to taxpayers of between R1-billion and R2.8-billion.

Tender documents seen by the Sunday Times reveal the air force wants to lease an aircraft similar to Inkwazi, a Boeing Business Jet based on the 737-700, to start operating from Waterkloof on October 1.

The tender was issued on 18 August. It is understood that five companies put in bids.