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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma does not need a new jet, the DA said on Sunday.
“He already has a perfectly serviceable Boeing Business Jet (“Inkwazi”) that has only had about 10 years of service,” said Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier.
He was responding to reports that the defence ministry planned to buy new presidential jets and planes as soon as possible.
The Saturday Star reported that Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the Cape Town Press Club on Friday that the department was spending millions each week on chartering aircraft because many of the current planes were so old.
“Every week we pay millions of rand chartering aircraft for strategic airlift capability, which far exceeds the money we would have spent by purchasing,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
“If you look at some of our aircraft, they're 60 to 62-years-old and should be museum pieces. I won't elaborate on some of the experiences I've had..., but this process 1/8to buy aircraft 3/8 must begin.”
Maynier said Zuma's jet had recently undergone maintenance.
“The existing presidential jet is also quite capable of doing long-haul flights, although with stopovers on some routes.”
He suggested money in the defence ministry could be better spent on other purchases.
“It is simply wrong to be spending billions of rand on a brand new presidential jet when so many people in our country are poor and battle each day just to survive.”
According to the Saturday Star report, the department was looking into buying VVIP (very, very important people) jets as well as strategic airlifting capacity aircraft as soon as possible.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the Treasury had allocated money to buy the new planes.
These new aircraft would carry VVIPs including President Jacob Zuma, the deputy president, former presidents and the minister and deputy minister of defence.
In 2009, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe had to make an emergency landing in the Democratic Republic of Congo after problems with his jet.
In 2011, the aircraft he was due to travel in had problems before take-off from Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria.
Last year, Mapisa-Nqakula cancelled plans to buy a R2 billion presidential jet. - Sapa