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I have today submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) in order to gain access to the maintenance records for Jacob Zuma’s Presidential Jet, Inkwazi.

Since the announcement was made that President Zuma will be handed a brand new Presidential Jet – which is estimated to cost the taxpayer in the region of R4 billion – the rationale used to defend this procurement is that his current jet, Inkwazi, is unsafe and not fit for purpose any longer.

Therefore it is only right that this rationale is scrutinised in order to assess whether there truly is a need for a new jet, or whether this is simply a vanity project for Jacob Zuma at the expense of the country and the taxpayer.

The Democratic Alliance has long-held that the President does not need a new jet – either leased or purchased – while the current Presidential Jet, Inkwazi, remains, in terms of aircraft standards, relatively new.

We cannot take the President’s word on this matter, nor the word of the Minister of Defence, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and thus have requested access to the records in order to make our own assessment in an open and transparent manner.

The application is for the records from the date of delivery of the jet to the South African Air Force (SAAF) on 21 October 2002 to present date. The full maintenance records are, including, but not limited to:

  • Total number of hours flown, and total number of cycles (take-off and landing) performed to date;
  • All technical faults and problems experienced by Inkwazi, and the measures taken to correct them;
  • Full record of maintenance procedures taken, by SAAF and private maintenance companies (domestic and international); and
  • All instances in which chartered aircraft were hired to shadow and/or replace Inkwazi when transporting VVIPs.

Last month I called on President Zuma to make a public announcement reversing his own government’s decision to purchase a new Presidential Jet, and I have today written to President Zuma once again asking him to reserve this decision. As Head of State, President Zuma cannot claim that he has no authority over this decision. As president, he ought to put the country’s needs ahead of his wants.

The matter is simple: While 8.9 million South Africans cannot find work, we cannot afford the purchase of a brand new luxurious jet for President Zuma’s travel.

Issued by DA

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