No less than four different options were investigated by Armscor when it came to acquiring another VVIP aircraft for the SA Air Force (SAAF) as per Ministerial instruction.
Not one measured up and now it’s back to the drawing board.
This comes after Armscor chief executive Kevin Wakeford last November said the acquisition of another VVIP aircraft was wanted urgently by Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. “She wants to see a new aircraft at AFB Waterkloof by March 31,” he told a hastily called media briefing at the time.
That deadline came and went with no announcements and it only came to light following media questioning that Armscor has requested tenders for leasing another VVIP aircraft to join those already on strength at 21 Squadron. The closing date was also not made public but was said to be May.
defenceWeb has reliably learnt the three lease options – wet, dry and damp – have also not measured up and all indications are the entire process will start again with a Request for Information (RfI) being put out. At this stage there is no indication of when this might happen.
So, notwithstanding Ministerial assurances that the new aircraft is not only for current President Jacob Zuma’s use – she is reported as having said the new VVIP acquisition will be there long after Zuma has left office – the tender issued late last year will not be filled.
Four years ago South Africa also heard another VVIP aircraft was going to be bought. Then it was a “previously owned” Boeing 777 and that also came to naught.
With reports rife that Zuma is not prepared to fly in the BBJ Inkwazi and chartering similar aircraft to move him and his entourage running into millions of Rand, that questions are being asked about the airworthiness and cost of maintenance and service is understandable. These have been posed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to the Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV) and Lanseria-based ExecuJet, a major service provider to the SAAF.
At the time of publication the political party had received no response from either.