Rent-a-jet brouhaha

2011-11-19 00:00

WHILE the government is looking for R1,6 billion to buy two new presidential jets, defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu said this week that negotiations will continue to also rent two extra jets at a cost of R820 million over five years.

The brouhaha which the jets — or lack thereof — have sparked in the corridors of defence, has now assumed crisis proportions after President Jacob Zuma’s Inkwazi jet has been grounded from September until the end of December for vital maintenance work.

This all came out in court documents. Sisulu’s department and the Air Force are not only running around to buy executive jets to fly Zuma and other VIPs — including ministers, deputy-ministers and “military veterans”, said departmental documents — but also to avert looming court action over an unsigned tender contract of R820 million.

The admission from Sisulu that the contract will be re-negotiated, could fuel the public protests against the cost of VIP flights. In March, the department allocated a tender of R820 million to the group Adoair to rent two jets for five years.

The contract has, however, never been signed by the department.

Adoair then approached the court to ask that Sisulu be forced to supply reasons why the tender was not signed.

Adoair submitted that the department has been dragging its collective feet for months, using delaying tactics and later just ignoring Adoair.

The legal advisor for the minister, Barnabas Xulu, wrote to Adoair that his client is the head of defence and would not propose to re-open nego-tiations “if she was not serious about the matter”.

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