Sisulu’s bizjet flights could see legal action


A lengthy quest by an MP to establish just how often former defence and military veterans minister Lindiwe Sisulu used Gulfstream jets appears to have become a war of words between herself and her successor, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, with the potential of legal action in the offing.

David Maynier, the outspoken shadow defence and military veterans minister of the opposition Democratic Alliance party, has long been unhappy about the lack of response to his questions about the former minister’s use of Gulfstream jets to move between Cape Town and Pretoria.

He maintains just on R11 million was spent by Sisulu during 2009 and 2012 flying on private jets and last month indicated he would use Parliamentary privilege to show this was the case.

According to the Sunday Times, a written response in October 2012 by Mapisa-Nqakula to a Maynier question indicated the former defence minister undertook 203 flights on Gulfstream jets. Sisulu, now Public Service and Administration Minister, insisted she only flew on Gulfstream aircraft 35 times.

She told the national Sunday paper she was going to clear her name and confirmed she was considering legal action against her Cabinet colleague.
“I want that expunged from my records with the necessary apology and necessary remedy. I will not have it. I’ve worked hard for this government and my reputation is not going to be sacrificed for something silly,” the paper reported her as saying.

Maynier said if Sisulu thought flying in top of the range bizjets was “silly” she was out of touch with reality in South Africa.
“All my parliamentary questions trying to get to the bottom of how many flights Sisulu actually undertook on Gulfstream jets have been stonewalled. We have to get to the bottom of this matter. We need the facts to be made public,” he said adding he would be writing to Auditor General Kimi Makwetu asking him to conduct an investigation into exactly how many flights the former defence minister took on Gulfstream jets between 2009 and 2012.

He said the flights were “a staggering abuse of public money” and were also in contravention of the guidelines set out in the Handbook for Members of the Executive and Presiding Officers.

According to a response by Sisulu to a parliamentary question in 2012, Sisulu undertook 268 VIP flights between 2009 and May 2012, at a cost of R40 581 878. These included 188 flights using 21 Squadron aircraft, 79 flights using SAAF reserve squadrons and one chartered flight.

SAAF Reserve squadrons fly Gulfstream II, Gulfstream III, Hawker, Premier, Citation and DC-9 jets.