New jets for Zuma and top officials

President Jacob Zuma and other top government officials will have at least three new VIP jets at their disposal for “international commitments” before the end of the year.

The new Boeing, which is the same type as Inkwazi, is expected to be a second-hand model available at the “bargain price” of R600 million.

Air force spokesperson Brigadier General Marthie Visser confirmed to City Press’s sister paper, Rapport, that the air force was compelled to find an interim solution to supplement its VIP fleet.

Zuma and other top government officials will receive an additional Boeing jet, and two more Falcon 900 jets, at a cost of about R2 billion.

Inkwazi, the presidential jet, will be supplemented by an additional Boeing Business Jet, which is expected to be delivered by the end of August, City Press reported.

The new planes were said to be needed because “the president’s international obligations have increased dramatically”.

Zuma has undertaken 37 international trips and 49 local trips since April 2013. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has been on 25 international trips, 14 of which were to Lesotho, as well as 21 local trips over the past eight months.

It is understood the aircraft are being financed as “fleet expansions”. This is believed to make it easier to get financial approval for their purchase, as new aircraft are usually registered in terms of a project before Treasury gives its approval.

On Sunday, the Democratic Alliance expressed shock at the report that R2 billion could be spent on the new planes.

“Last year the secretary of defence, Dr Sam Gulube, told members of the portfolio committee on defence and military veterans ‘there is no plan for the department of defence to acquire VVIP aircraft’,” DA MP David Maynier said in a statement.

“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.”

Maynier claimed Zuma’s current jet, Inkwazi, was in “mint condition”, and had recently undergone maintenance at a considerable cost to taxpayers.