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Sisulu livid over plane fiasco


airforce resignation

INLSA

Lt. General Carlo Gagiano. Photo: Etienne Creux

South Africa’s Secretary of Defence, Mpumi Mpofu, along with the SA Air Force Chief, Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano, have resigned with immediate effect over the crisis around the air force’s VIP transport aircraft.

The resignations, with Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu refusing to accept Gagiano’s letter, are over the debacle around the VIP aircraft.

Last month Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was forced to abandon a leg of a diplomatic trip to Europe when a VIP plane, chartered by the air force, experienced technical difficulties on take-off from Air Force Base Waterkloof.

Earlier this year, a VIP aircraft Motlanthe was travelling in had to perform an emergency landing in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while on a recent trip to New Zealand the plane he was travelling in again experienced technical and mechanical problems.

The resignation letters of both Mpofu and Gagiano were handed in days after the Waterkloof fiasco.

Sisulu, according to sources close to her office, finally lost her patience with the latest incident and Mpofu being unable to provide her with “satisfactory answers for the debacles”.

It is believed that Sisulu summoned Mpofu, wife of former SABC chief executive, Dali Mpofu, to her office demanding an explanation as to why the air force could not transport President Jacob Zuma or Motlanthe with its own aircraft.

She also wanted to know why the SAAF was having to charter planes at exorbitant prices.

A government official on Thursday night said a serious bone of contention for the minister was the fact that the cabinet approved the procurement of two new VIP aircraft nearly nine months ago and had made a budget available, “yet there is no sight of these planes”.

“The minister is demanding answers… as to why the country is being embarrassed… why the defence force proclaims to be the biggest and the best in Africa, yet it cannot fly its president around and answers as to why the safety of the president and deputy president is being put in danger,” said the source.

While the minister had accepted Mpofu’s resignation she was refusing to accept the resignation of “an officer and a gentleman”, the source said.

“In simple terms she has said under no circumstances will she accept the resignation of such an officer.

“She is determined to protect his integrity under all circumstances.

“She is not holding Gagiano, who took the blame as the chief of the air force, responsible for the debacle at all,” said the source.

Sisulu’s spokesman, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, confirmed that the resignation letters of both Mpofu and Gagiano had been received.

“Mpofu’s resignation has been accepted with immediate effect and she has been replaced by the chief financial officer, Mziwonke Dlabantu, who is now the acting secretary of defence.

“When it comes to Gagiano and his resignation, she has not accepted his letter even though as the head of the air force he stated that he would accept full responsibility for what has happened in terms of the SAAF’s VIP aircraft and the transportation of the president and deputy president.

“The minister has insisted on sitting down with Gagiano to get to the bottom of the matter, the challenges facing the air force and possible solutions to these challenges.

“They are engaging each other and there is hope that a solution to the matter will be found soon, especially as the minister feels strongly about Gagiano’s leadership abilities and his willingness to take responsibility,” he said.

The South African National Defence Union head Pikkie Greeff said as the union, they expected the minister of defence to resign as well, “as the buck in this debacle ultimately stops with her”.

“When it comes to Mpofu, we are not going to miss her because she has done absolutely nothing for the defence force or its members. We are glad that Sisulu has not accepted Gagiano’s resignation,” said Greeff.

Neither Gagiano nor Mpofu were available for comment on Thursday night. - Pretoria News


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eish, wrote

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12:38pm on 4 November 2011
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I say: fire the whole SAAF and sell all those expensive planes. We don't need them and even if the sh*t hits the fan, nobody will fly them properly, if they do take off that is. Imagine how many corrupt politicians could be made happy with that money.

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Anonymous, wrote

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12:10pm on 4 November 2011
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Was'nt so long ago, in fact just a few weeks ago that a so called political party critised the SANDF for ordering a plane for the president. They seem remarkably silent now, probably hoping our hopeless press has forgotten that they raised the issue and said that the plane was not necessary.

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Loki, wrote

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11:44am on 4 November 2011
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@Mark and Frank, While the UK Prime Minister does indeed fly on the national carrier, the RAF No32 Royal Squadron provides dedicated transport to the PM, the Brit Monarch and Roayal Family. And on occasions they charter a civilian aircraft. The point of it all boets, is that your '3rd world' drivel is just that - drivel. Rather compare us to Hong Kong, Macau, Norway, Singapore, Sri Lanka and would you believe it ZIMBABWE who utilise their national carriers. With the exception of Norway, pop goes your 3rd world theory. Thanks for reading.

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Anonymous, wrote

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11:39am on 4 November 2011
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I'm proud of General Gagiano's taking responsibility. How refreshing is that? Glad to see that the Minister recognises a professional at work.

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Dellboy, wrote

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11:39am on 4 November 2011
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That is what you get when you employ your ANC friend in key positions that they not capable of doing.

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Anonymous, wrote

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11:26am on 4 November 2011
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I'm proud of General Gagiano's taking responsibility. How refreshing is that? Glad to see that the Minister recognises a professional at work.

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Anonymous, wrote

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11:19am on 4 November 2011
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@Democrat, we want to know who is responsible. Even if he was not involved personally, he is accountable for such grave incidents. We must not forget how the genocide in Rwanda started. It started with the death of political leaders whose aircraft was shot down. We do not want that grave mistake whereby people will accusse the SAAF officers of killing the President or Deputy President. This is threatening national security if looked through the spectacles of security studies not just race politics ("South African Street Politic"). I still hold something must be done, an investigation, must be done...The General is guilty of not ensuring that his air force service do what is best to prevent such chaos and tainting the good name of the SAAF.

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Huf Lung Dung, wrote

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11:19am on 4 November 2011
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All this GRANDIOSE has got to stop, I mean the Queen of England and the head of the Commonwealth fly in commercial planes now why not Politicians in South Africa.....best defense force in Africa.....I very much doubt it.

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Anonymous, wrote

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11:00am on 4 November 2011
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WOW, personal matters should not be mixed with work. Thats all I have to say.

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:57am on 4 November 2011
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This is what you get for nepotism - say no more!

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dugsbaws, wrote

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10:52am on 4 November 2011
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Chaos in Laos.............nuf sed...????

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Garden Gnome in Pinetown, wrote

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10:47am on 4 November 2011
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Um...We have an accountant as acting secretary of Defence? Well, I feel really confident now. Let's just hope Lesotho don't attack.

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The Archer, wrote

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10:26am on 4 November 2011
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Sisulu's appointment of Mpofu was clearly a bad call in the first place - it could not have been made on competence or merit. Sisulu should now offer her own resignation, but her pride and arrogance wouldn't allow that.

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democrat, wrote

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10:18am on 4 November 2011
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General Gagiano stays. An officer and a gentleman, and prepared to accept responsibility for the foul-ups made by others. I think the high and mighty Minister of Defence should resign.

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Joe Cynic, wrote

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10:16am on 4 November 2011
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So her royal Sisuluness was livid? Now she knows what it is like to have a plane delayed, like all us 'little' people who are only good enough to pay taxes for her to splurge.

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:10am on 4 November 2011
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The minister did good. Mr Greef I ask why didnt you resign after your members were involved in an illegal strike. Tell what did you do to take the blame as well, as you state that the fiasco ends with the minister herself. The question is why there was no new procurement of VIP aircraft when budgeted for? There is a possibility of mismanagement and corruption the Officer must answwer on. In real why they experience challenges on last minutes while they know of the planned visits prior? Is it not the very same Officer (SAAF) who is responsible to charter planes allaws when they experience problems? Take note at exorbitant prices!!! The General must answer he is in charge. It is the same as what General Cele did. He must not be treated with the kid or white glove. On this matter there must be investigation... The general is in charge of the defence of RSA (ward off the possible airborne threats)and safety of the Pres and his deputy on air travels. He must not be treated differently, Minister you did good for not approve the resignation. There must be investigation to take place.

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Frank, wrote

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09:59am on 4 November 2011
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Typical of a 3rd world, despot dictatorship as found in all African States! The populace is starving, have no housing, have no running water, no jobs, but the incompetent corrupt "VIP" government must fly around in private chartered jets at the cost of not millions but BILLIONS of tax payers Rands per year!!!! Even Britains top government officials fly with their local carrier, so why does this banch of prima donnas have to fly in fancy private jets? Welcome to the new Zimbabwe!!

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mark, wrote

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09:48am on 4 November 2011
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What is wrong with our National Carrier SAA? The predidents luggage will get stolen so they can't use SAA. What a joke.The UK prime Minister travels on BA. There is clearly a lack of pride in our leaders of South Africa.

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Hinkey, wrote

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09:49am on 4 November 2011
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My brother was a dedicated Helicopter Technician is the SAAF, when NZ found out he had had enough and wanted out, he was packed and gone in 6 weeks. Now somebody else is benefiting from his expertise and dedication.Very sad.

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@Simon, wrote

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09:45am on 4 November 2011
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Simon - in case you haven't noticed our economy is suffering from the BILLIONS of rands that are wasted due to needless government expenditurewastagefraudcorruption etc....and now you want to slap on some VIP airplanes as well? How many people could we house for the price of these planes???? Try thinking....it may be a new experience!!

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