The Democratic Alliance says that the government has allocated R273,972 per day for the lease of a presidential jet for Jacob Zuma, while insiders say there is no logical reason for not flying Inkwazi.
In response to a parliamentary question the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, has indicated that R100 million has been “allocated for the leasing of the VIP-configured jet for the 2016/17 financial year.”
It follows a report in the Sunday Times which alleged that the the air force plans to spend about R500 million on an 18-month lease of a second luxury jet for the president, until a permanent solution can be found and anew jet can be purchased.
Tender documents seen by the Sunday Times revealed that 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.
Inkwazi, meanwhile, remains grounded at Air Force Base Waterkloof because of claims that it is “unreliable”.
However, experts say that the there is nothing wrong with the current plane. “There is no logical reason for not flying Inkwazi,” one source told the Sunday Times.
Aviation expert, Darren Olivier, concurred with the source. “All indications are that Inkwazi has flown fewer than 10,000 flight cycles and is accumulating them at far fewer than 1,000 a year. It can keep flying for decades before it becomes unsafe,” he Olivier.
South African National Defence Union leader Pikkie Greeff said maintenance staff had assured him “there is absolutely nothing wrong with Inkwazi. This aircraft is in 100% condition and it’s sitting there gathering dust.”
“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,” lamented Kobus Marais, DA shadow minister of Defence and Military Veterans.
“Under President Zuma, VIP travel has become a fiscal black hole costing South Africans hundreds of millions. Yet 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’,” he said.
Source: Business Tech