Johannesburg – Last year the defense force cancelled plans to buy an R2bn presidential jet. Today Defense Minister Mapisa-Nqakula stated time is running out and it is imperative to purchase jets as well as strategic airlifting capacity planes as soon as possible.
Mapisa-Nqakula told a Press Club in Cape Town, on Friday the treasury had allocated money for the purchase of new air crafts to charter the President Jacob Zuma, the deputy president, former presidents, ministers of defense and their deputies. She told the conference that the current airplanes were about sixty years old, and they should be placed in museums, and confirmed the defense department spent millions each on chartering costs. The purchase of new air craft is critical and must begin soon.
The defense force owns a Boeing 737BBJ (Presidential Jet) among other recently purchased aircrafts, and definitely cannot be referred to as old. The only over forty year old aircrafts owned by the defense force are the Douglas C-47TP ‘Dakota’ and the Lockheed C-130BZ ‘Hercules’ logistical transport aircraft.
During July 2002 a news article reported about the South African Defense force purchase and the impending arrival of a new luxurious VIP aircraft from Switzerland .This article elaborated on the one of 50 in service worldwide jets, the luxury interior fittings, and the state of the art office installed in this jet. The aircraft boasts hi-tech equipment including conference facilities and satellite voice and fax communications. This VIP aircraft cost the South African taxpayer millions of Rands, and included specialized support equipment, management costs and training of the crew. The exclusive rights of use to this magnificent jet would be for the President, deputy president and defense ministers.
Last year the outgoing minister of Defense Lindiwe Sisulu suspended the purchase of an R2billion presidential jet and insisted the cancellation was procedural as the new defense Minister Mapisa-Nqakula would need time to review the details of deemed purchase.
During that time, there was a debate in parliament, and the opposition party Democratic Alliance, spokesperson Mr. Maynier said. “If British Prime Minister David Cameron can use British Airways to fly, then Zuma can fly SAA. It is simply wrong to spend R2bn on a presidential jet when so many people in the country are poor. I believe a presidential jet should only be used in exceptional circumstances.”
The South African Defense force budget and finances have been under strain and reports published this year refer to the incompetence within that department. It is evident that the amount of money allocated to the defense force is not controlled and the accountability of that department remains a concern. The Minister of defense should permit an independent audit verification to ensure the stability of this important department. After all the South African Defense force perform a vital role in the stability of the country.
Public outrage strongly implies the government is abusing the funds allocated and defies accountability. Reference to the infrastructure, the critical electricity problem and the poverty of millions ignored by the incompetent government, anger the public.
Written by Laura Oneale