Former defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu has advised the suspension of the purchase of a luxury jet for President Jacob Zuma, her office said on Monday.
It said in a statement her advice to defence secretary Sam Makhudu Gulube was to suspend the purchase, so current Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula could review the deal.
Sisulu said in the statement: “We had (previously) come to the conclusion that purchasing was the best option, but we did not want to impose that on the new minister... we wanted her to look at the challenge, analyse it and find the best solution without any pressure.”
The defence ministry declined to say whether the purchase had indeed been suspended.
Last week, it was reported that Gulube was visiting the United States to finalise the purchase of a 300-seater Boeing 777-200LR for Zuma.
The jet would cost US$150 million (about R1.26 billion) and an extra US$80m to reconfigure.
Also included in the deal was a Global Express 600 costing US$28m for the deputy president, bringing the total bill to US$258m.
Sisulu said she would welcome an investigation into the deal by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, as suggested by Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier.
“In all our actions we always ensure that we receive the right advice before we act. In this matter we received advice from National Treasury, the accountant general and a number of other institutions,” Sisulu said.
“We are absolutely convinced that the procurement process we followed is the correct one. Mr Maynier is welcome to report the matter to the Public Protector.”
On Friday, Maynier said he intended asking Madonsela to investigate whether the purchase was warranted.
“If British Prime Minister David Cameron can use British Airways to fly, then Zuma can fly SAA. It is simply wrong to spend R2bn on a presidential jet when so many people in the country are poor. I believe a presidential jet should only be used in exceptional circumstances.”
Sisulu is public service and administration minister. - Sapa