Defence:purchase of new vip jets put on hold

2012-07-04 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The purchase of two new VIP jets has been put on ice.

New Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is reassessing all projects in her department, including the purchase of jets championed by her precedessor, Lindiwe Sisulu.

Secretary of Defence Dr Sam Gulube said yesterday: “The minister will need a few more days to work through all the projects.

“She prefers to react to media inquiries herself. When the review process is completed, which is expected to be within a few days and not more than a week, she will address the media on the question.”

Questions have been raised about the procedure followed to buy the jets, and Sisulu asked Gulube on June 14, after she was moved from Defence to Public Service, to suspend the purchase so that Mapisa-Nqakula could make up her own mind.

The department wanted to buy new jets because over the past two years there have been repeated problems with jets hired to transport the president and his deputy.

Sisulu’s spokesperson, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, said the task team investigating the purchases included representatives of Treasury and the Auditor-General, and was above suspicion.

On May 23 the department began the acquisition process, and Gulube asked for quotes from Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier, giving them until May 31 to quote and specifying delivery by the middle of July.

Democratic Alliance defence spokesperson David Maynier said the procedure was highly irregular and that Sisulu seemed to be trying to get out of a difficult situation. “Minister Sisulu is implying she asked Minister [Pravin] Gordhan for permission to circumvent normal tender procedures.”

He challenged Sisulu to produce documentary proof of Gordhan’s permission.

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