Cyril pays his way to Cuba

2014-12-21 15:00

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has jetted off to Cuba for a family holiday – on a commercial flight.

Ramaphosa left on Friday night and apparently also left his security detail at home.

City Press understands that Ramaphosa will not be involved in any official meetings when in Cuba, despite claims by the South African government that it was involved in facilitating talks between Cuba and the US about easing relations between them.

US President Barack Obama this week announced that relations between the two countries would be eased, a step seen by many as the first in the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa, did not want to comment on the deputy president’s holiday plans, saying these were “private”.

Another government official said Ramaphosa was “rich” and “he won’t be using any state money”, even though he was entitled to use an official aircraft.

The official said Ramaphosa’s security people were likely to frown at his choice of taking a commercial flight.

It is unclear which airline Ramaphosa is using, but Air France and British Airways are the most popular choices from South Africa to Cuba.

Government leaders are entitled to use an SA Air Force or chartered jet once a year for their annual leave.

In the past, the main reason for this was stated as “security concerns” because bodyguards and other personnel are considered necessary for the leaders’ safety.

Ramaphosa’s preference for an “incognito” holiday contrasts with that of President Jacob Zuma and even Ramaphosa’s predecessor, Kgalema Motlanthe, when their respective holidays in Mozambique and the Seychelles cost the taxpayer millions of rands.

The department of defence last year told Parliament the total cost for the two-week holidays had amounted to R2.6?million.

President Zuma flew to Vilanculos in the presidential jet.

From there two SA Air Force Oryx helicopters transported him and his bodyguards to Bazaruto Island off the Mozambican coast.

Halfway through his holiday, Zuma and his entourage had to be flown back and forth from the island to South Africa for a meeting.

Motlanthe and his then partner and now wife, Gugu Mtshali, and five bodyguards holidayed at the luxurious Desroches Island Resort.

They used an SA Air Force Falcon business jet and their additional support staff took commercial flights.

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