Zuma jet decision welcomed

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IOL pic july4 jacob zuma Independent Newspapers (File image) President Jacob Zuma. Photo: Jacques Naude

Johannesburg - The decision by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula not to purchase a new Boeing 777 jet for President Jacob Zuma was welcomed by political parties on Friday.

Democratic Alliance spokesman David Maynier said it seemed like former defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu initiated a “dodgy process” to purchase the two new jets.

“There was no normal competitive tender process as required by National Treasury regulations and the Public Finance Management Act,” he said.

“It is simply wrong to waste billions of rands on new VIP aircraft when so many people in our country are poor.”

Freedom Front Plus spokesman Pieter Groenewald welcomed the decision because the jet was “totally unnecessary and would have been an extravagant luxury”.

“Should a jet have to be purchased in future for the president, it should be affordable, suitable, and not be excessive,” Groenewald said.

On Friday, Mapisa-Nqakula told reporters the procurement process was cancelled after the offer to purchase lapsed on June 15.

A US10 million (about R82 million) deposit would be returned in full, the minister added.

The ministry confirmed that there was also an offer from Airbus but that this lapsed two weeks later on June 30.

The DA asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the procurement of the new jet.

Mapisa-Nqakula said a new procurement process could be expected in the future because there was a need for VIP planes.

Maynier said this could mean that the defence department could push ahead and purchase or lease up to four VIP aircraft in line with the decision taken by Cabinet in 2010.

“President Jacob Zuma has a perfectly adequate existing aircraft... which is in mint condition. We must make do with what we already have,” he said. - Sapa

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