The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party has asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the use of public funds and Air Force aircraft during President Jacob Zuma’s recent trip to Mozambique.
David Maynier, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, said in a statement that Zuma reportedly used public funds to pay for part of his “break” on Bazaruto Island in Mozambique.
Apparently, a Falcon 50 jet, operated by the South African Air Force’s (SAAF’s) 21 Squadron (VIP), transported Zuma to Vilanculos International Airport in Mozambique; and two Oryx helicopters, operated by the SAAF, then transported Zuma from Vilanculos International Airport to Bazaruto Island.
“The SAAF’s two Oryx helicopters and Falcon 50 presumably transported President Jacob Zuma back to South Africa after his break in Mozambique,” Maynier said. “We do not know the total cost of operating the Falcon 50 and the two Oryx helicopters. The President’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, reportedly claims that everything was done according to the rules.
“However, the rules are, bizarrely, classified and set out, depending on who you believe, in a secret “President Handbook” or an appendix to a Cabinet Minute.
“I will therefore request the Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, to investigate the use of public funds by President Jacob Zuma on his recent “break” in Mozambique.”
Maynier added that this follows a similar request for the Public Protector to investigate Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s use of public funds to pay for part of his holiday in the Seychelles.
“In the end, the public should not be expected to fork out millions of rands to pay for presidential holidays,” Maynier said. “If Prime Minister David Cameron can use a discount airline for his holiday, why can’t President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe use commercial airlines for their holidays?”
Last year it emerged that President Jacob Zuma had spent R140.5 million on VIP flights between 2009 and 2012, flying 286 times aboard SAAF VIP aircraft and chartered jets, while Motlanthe spent R70 million on 213 flights in the same period.
A total of 234 VIP flights were conducted by the South African Air Force’s 21 Squadron for Zuma, while 25 flights were conducted by SAAF Reserve squadrons and 27 flights were chartered. Zuma’s flights cost R140 515 430.15, giving an average cost of R491 000 per flight.
In response to a parliamentary question, the Minister of Defence stated that Motlanthe had embarked on 213 flights since 2009, which cost R69 746 680.47.
Former president Thabo Mbeki embarked on 39 flights between 2009 and 2011, at a cost of R32 130 037.87.