That government funds were hastily found to pay subscription fees for a flight planning and navigational aids products service was shown to be a fait accompli when ZS-RSA left South Africa last week en route to Washington and then on to London.
The Presidential Boeing 737-7ED, operated by the SA Air Force (SAAF) VIP transport squadron, was grounded in August due to non-payment of a Jeppesen subscription fee, meaning the aircraft was not allowed to fly internationally. This apparent oversight saw a SAA (South African Airways) Airbus A340 chartered to fly President Cyril Ramaphosa and his retinue to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for a Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting in August.
The same – happily – was not the case with Inkwazi’s flight to Joint Base Andrews military airport in Washington DC last Wednesday (14 September) to meet US President Joe Biden, by invitation, and then on to the United Kingdom to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
defenceWeb asked both the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC) and SAAF Corporate Services ahead of the presidential departure which aircraft he would be using. At the time of publishing no reply had been received from either.
Instead, military aviation enthusiasts led by Dean Wingrin, founder of the Unofficial SAAF Website, used flight tracking websites to establish the South African number one had in fact left the country aboard ZS-RSA. The real-time, global flight tracking service on Sunday 18 September showed Inkwazi approaching the United Kingdom having crossed the “Pond”, as the Atlantic Ocean is known by the international aviation community.
The Presidency does not indicate when Ramaphosa will return to South Africa, now stricken by even worse power cuts, saying only he will attend a heads of state reception in “precincts of Westminster Abbey” after the funeral.
Ramaphosa will not be present at the Monday 19 September official royal funeral in London because he, according to The Presidency, is cutting short his trip to return home in the light of the escalating Eskom crisis. Spokesman Vincent Magwenya is reported by Johannesburg daily The Citizen as saying the electricity status in the country was “alarming” to Ramaphosa, especially as regards commitments made to the nation to fix the ongoing energy crisis and embattled power utility Eskom.