President Jacob Zuma should show leadership, and publically insist that the R4 billion VIP Jet be scrapped. In strained financial times, and with more important priorities needing funding, the President cannot possibly ‘need’ such a luxury.
This follows reports in today’s City Press which have confirmed that Armscor plans to begin the procurement process for luxury VIP jet to the tune of R4 billion while there are more sensible more cost effective options to ensure the President’ safe travel.
While we appreciate that the President’s existing jet, Inkwazi, has been grounded from time to time due to mechanical problems, a R4 billion luxury VIP jet fitted with a private bedroom suite, a bathroom and conference room for eight and 30 person capacity is not the answer. Particularly considering that the Department of Defence (DoD) was considering buying three second hand jets at half the cost to the taxpayer.
In fact, last year the Secretary of Defence, Dr Sam Gulube, told members of the Joint Standing Committee of Defence that “there is no plan for the department of defence to acquire VVIP aircraft.” Yet just one year later not only is the procurement set to go ahead, it is going ahead with alarming haste and at double the projected budget for the replacement of the President’s aircraft.
This is very similar to former Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu’s failed attempt to circumvent defence acquisition policy and acquire a Boeing 777-200 LR and Global Express 6000 Business Jet, at the cost of 263 million US dollars (R3.1 billion) in 2012.
As such I will be request that this deal be halted and the Joint Standing Committee on Defence can thoroughly interrogate the procurement process and recommend more cost effective options so Parliament can satisfy itself that the taxpayer is not footing the bill for outrageously frivolous expenditure for the President to jet-set across the globe at taxpayers’ expense.
To this end I will write to Stanley Motimele and Emmanuel Mlambo, the co-Chairpersons of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, to request an urgent briefing on the acquisition of new VIP aircraft for President and his Cabinet.