According to latest reports, President Jacob Zuma’s VVIP jet, Inkwazi, flew at least six times in November, proving that the jet is fully functional, as the DA has continually maintained.
It has also been brought to our attention that despite this fact, the President continues to travel using costly charted flights, paid for by ordinary South Africans.
The DA will be submitting parliamentary questions to ascertain the details of Inkwazi’s flights in November, who was aboard the plane, how much was spent on chartering the additional planes for the president, whether the crews on-board the chartered flights were properly vetted and specific reasons why Inkwazi was not used for Zuma’s flights to Cuba.
We know from media reports that the President used Inkwazi for a state visit to Zimbabwe in the beginning of the month and flight records show a return flight from Waterkloof to East London on 24 November, and a return flight from Waterkloof to Langebaan yesterday.
Although Inkwazi is fully functional, as its recent flights prove, the President continues to charter other jets using publics funds.
According to National Treasury RT61 contract specifications, private planes are supposed to only be chartered from specifically authorised companies, Execujet or Fortune Air, who have been approved to provide services to government until 31 March 2017.
However, the President is now chartering private planes from another unauthorised service provider.
On Tuesday morning, the President flew to Cuba for Fidel Castro’s funeral in a luxurious Gulfstream 550 that was reportedly chartered from an Angolan Company, Bestfly. This is the same company that flew Zuma to China to attend the G20 in September.
The crew on the plane must be cleared by SANDF Intelligence, and the crew should “preferably” be South African citizens. According to sources in the aviation industry, there are no South Africans qualified to fly a Gulfstream 550, and Bestfly’s crew consists of Portuguese nationals only.
The chartering of the plane from Bestfly is not only in contravention of clear government directives, it is also costing taxpayers millions. In similar circumstances, Zuma’s chartered trip to New York in September 2014 was estimated to cost at least R6 million.
Under President Zuma, VIP travel has become a fiscal black hole costing South Africans hundreds of millions. It is blatantly obvious that neither he nor the the ANC have any care for how public funds are spent.
The DA will continue to ensure, through every mechanism available to us, that the President and the ANC is held accountable for this reckless use of public money that should be put to use in creating jobs for the 9 million unemployed South Africans.
Kobus Marais MP
DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans