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Parliament, Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma's holiday break in Mozambique earlier this year cost South African taxpayers over R1.6 million, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has revealed.
In a written reply to a parliamentary question, she said the holiday, reportedly taken over a weekend on the Mozambican resort island of Bazaruto, included the use of an SA Air Force Falcon 900 aircraft and two Oryx helicopters.
According to the reply, the “Falcon 900 (made a) total of eight flights and (the) Oryx helicopters (a) total of 22 flights” with the president.
The Falcon made a further “ferry” flight, and the helicopters a total of five such ferry flights.
“Total costs were R1 623 862.75,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
The reply also spells out the cost of transporting Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to and from a Christmas break in the Seychelles at the end of last year.
Motlanthe visited the Indian Ocean archipelago between December 23 and January 4.
According to Mapisa-Nqakula, this cost over R1m for two flights on a Falcon 900 aircraft, plus associated costs.
“The total cost was R1 022 939.72,” she said.
In March this year, Motlanthe, responding to a question in the National Assembly by Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier, defended the spending, saying it was in line with government policy.
He said that in terms of government policy, transport for the deputy president, whether for official or private purposes, was the responsibility of the state.
“The state also has a duty to provide security for the deputy president at all times, whether he is engaged in official duties, or while he is on leave.”
This policy had been re-affirmed by Cabinet on March 20, 2007, Motlanthe said.
In a statement on Thursday, Maynier said it was wrong to be spending millions of rands on VIP flights when there were so many poor people in South Africa.
He noted that between June 12 last year and June 30 this year, Mapisa-Nqakula had spent a total of R13m on 61 flights.
This was at a time when the SAAF's operating budget had been “stripped to the bone”, and 29 of its Gripen fighter jets and 30
Agusta helicopters “have effectively been grounded”.
Maynier said the airforce “seems to be in danger of being reduced to an airborne taxi service for VIPs”.