Durban - Should President Jacob Zuma and his cabinet fly South African Airways?
The DA on Sunday again suggested that if British Prime Minister David Cameron could make do with British Airways, there was no reason why Zuma could not fly on a commercial airline, to lower the demand on military aircraft and the expenses incurred in chartering aircraft.
DA MP David Maynier was reacting to a story published in City Press on Sunday, which said the South African Air Force would before the end of this year be purchasing three new jets for the use of Zuma and other top government officials.
The EFF, in responding to whether commercial air travel was a reasonable alternative, argued that “most of those people do not face any significant threat”.
The SAAF said its current fleet was insufficient to meet the increase in the country’s international relations commitments over the last two decades.
The SAAF is responsible for providing transportation for Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and any other persons “identified by the presidency as envoys”.
SAAF spokeswoman Brigadier- General Marthie Visser said in order to meet its commitments, the Department of Defence had had to charter aircraft on several occasions.
“The costs associated with chartering are also a source of frustration when one considers the level of funding the SANDF is currently receiving,” she said.
The question of whether flying commercial was a reasonable alternative could only be answered by the SAAF, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said.
The air force was entrusted with the security of Zuma and Ramaphosa when travelling.
SANDF spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini was not availablefor comment.
According to City Press, the aircraft the SAAF intends acquiring are a R600 million Boeing Business Jet and two Falcon 900 jets.
It has been widely reported in the international press that during a 2010 visit to the US, Cameron travelled on British Airways, and in business class rather than first class.
But according to The Guardian newspaper, Cameron also often charters a British Airways or Virgin Atlantic plane.
EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the government’s spending was inconsistent with Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s stance on austerity.