Mkhize blew R1.2m on plane trips
Share this article:
Durban - Former KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize’s taste for “luxury” transport has cost the provincial government more than R1 million.
From 2010 to this year, while he was premier, Mkhize made use of 45 charter aeroplanes and helicopters, at a cost of R1.2 million, to travel around the province.
This emerged in current Premier Senzo Mchunu’s and KZN Director-General Nhlanhla Ngidi’s response to questions posed by the DA in the provincial legislature earlier this month.
Some of the trips were to attend weddings and funerals.
These included a R32 000 trip from Pietermaritzburg to Pongola to Durban to attend a funeral in November 2010.
In April 2011, R58 000 was spent on flying Mkhize from Pietermaritzburg to Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape, to attend the wedding of a person known only as “Sambula”.
That July, he flew from Durban to Hluhluwe, at a cost of R22 000, to attend the wedding of “Dumile”. And, a few days after that, R24 000 was spent flying him, return, from Durban to Ulundi, to attend “Mama Magwaza’s funeral”.
Last year, Mkhize flew from Pietermaritzburg to uMkhuze to Durban to attend “Mama Nyawo’s” funeral. That cost R38 000. The DA leader in KZN, Sizwe Mchunu, has called the money spent on Mkhize’s flying privately “completely inappropriate and excessive”.
“Premiers do not get to fly in luxury private jets at the people’s expense,” Mchunu said.
“Helen Zille (DA leader and Western Cape Premier) almost always travels economy class when on business.”
He called on the Office of the Premier to hold Mkhize accountable for the money spent on his using private aircraft.
The office spokesman, Ndabezinhle Sibiya, said the government had paid for the private aircraft but denied this was an abuse of public funds.
The province was mainly rural and private aircraft were needed to reach parts of it, he said. “There are no commercial flights to deep rural areas within KZN.
“Over the past years, premiers have used private aircraft to travel to far-flung areas to execute their duties,” Sibiya said. “This does not constitute abuse of government funds.”
Of the weddings and funerals Sibiya said he had been invited in his “capacity as premier”.
Mkhize was the premier from May 2009 until August, when he resigned to focus on his role as the ruling party’s treasurer-general.