President Jacob Zuma Photo: File

CAPE TOWN - R20 million was spent by the air force to rent a plane for President Jacob Zuma, according to local media reports.

President Jacob Zuma has just returned from a visit to China for the 9th BRICS summit in Xiamen. Although the current financial year budget for the VIP flights was used up, the air force still paid for the flight. 

The airplane, Inkwazi, that was acquired during Thabo Mbeki’s presidency has an interior that is completely equipped for a practical VIP environment. According to Guy Leitch of SA Flyer Magazine, the operating costs for the rented aircraft should have cost around R5 million compared to the R20 million that was spent.

Inkwazi, the South African Air Force's VIP intercontinental aircraft.

Leitch also said that the presidential jet is much bigger, can take more people and has the range to travel non stop. The crew has already been paid for the air force, therefore one only had to pay for the fuel, which would have cost R1.25 million approximately.

A plane carrying President Jacob Zuma arrives in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province ahead of the 2017 BRICS Summit. Picture: Chen Yehua/Xinhua

The Inkwazi is fully functional, operational and the crewed is more than adequate to for Zuma's needs. It has a low mileage compared to other aircrafts of its age because the plane is seldom flown.

BESTFLY is an Angolan company and President Zuma flew with an Angolan aircraft. BESTFLY is registered in the Caribbean and the plane has a Portuguese crew, although the crew and security for a presidential flight has to be vetted.