Madonsela to probe Zuma jets deal

2012-07-06 12:13

Former Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to probe the controversial purchase of two luxury jets for President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe.

This is according to Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who confirmed today that Madonsela would be investigating the procurement process followed in the purchase of a 300-seater Boeing jet for Zuma and another for Motlanthe at the cost of more than R2 billion.

She also confirmed that the decision to lease and purchase aircraft was taken in 2010 after Cabinet sent a memo to the department requesting that new aircraft be purchased because the jets used to transport VIPs including members of Cabinet and former presidents were old and had reached the end of their lifespan.

Mapisa-Nqakula said there was no agreement signed with aircraft manufacturers Boeing to purchase a jet for Zuma and that the offer made to the department to conclude he purchase had lapsed on 15 June 2012.

She said the R86 million deposit the department paid to secure a jet to be immediately available for Zuma would be repaid after the proposal to purchase the jet lapsed.

Mapisa-Nqakula was confident that Madonsela’s probe would put to rest allegations that the procurement process was not transparent and the decision not cost effective.

She said there was an urgent need to replace the aircraft.

“Over the past three years it has become apparent that the aircraft used for this purpose by the Air Force are due for replacement due to maintenance and other concerns.

“A decision was therefore made to take a holistic, long-term approach which would see the replacement of the fleet based on the totality of transportation needs and requirements for all the VIPs,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.

She said there were concerns over security for VIPs which also prompted the decision to lease aircrafts for the time being while working on a procurement process.

Security of our VIPs is a matter of concern.

Mapisa-Nqakula said she had yet to speak to Sisulu about her concerns regarding the procurement process that was followed and had also asked for a legal opinion on whether the procurement process was above board.

She said the investigation by Madonsela would not interfere with the new procurement process that would be embarked on.

“Although the need and requirements for air transportation for our VIPs remain urgent and that at some points a new procurement process will have to be embarked on, the department will have to conduct a consultation process that takes into consideration all the new circumstances,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.

She said she would ensure that the new procurement process was “transparent, fair and cost-effective” but declined to divulge how much the department had budgeted for the aircrafts meant to transport VIPs.

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