Zuma prefers to use SAAF, not chartered planes - Presidency

2016-09-14 15:38
Aeroplane. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Aeroplane. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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Johannesburg - The Presidency has denied claims that President Jacob Zuma prefers to use chartered planes instead of the South African Air Force (SAAF) fleet.

"The Presidency reiterates that it prefers the use of aircraft within the South African Air Force fleet to transport the President and Deputy President (Cyril Ramaphosa) and allegations made by aviation experts in the media that Zuma prefers chartered aircrafts are not true," Presidency spokesperson Dr Bongani Ngqulunga said in a statement.

Ngqulunga said both Zuma and Ramaphosa were currently being transported in chartered aircraft locally and abroad, "due to non-availability of reliable aircraft within the SAAF fleet".

Zuma was stuck in Burundi after the government-owned presidential jet experienced problems on Friday, his office said.

The Presidency said it agreed with experts that the use of smaller planes for local travel and the general use of the SAAF fleet, instead of hiring aircraft, would be more cost-effective option for government.

In February, Zuma was also unable to leave Burundi when his plane, Inkwazi, developed technical problems, News24 reported at the time.

READ: Zuma's plane malfunctions in Uganda

Mechanical difficulties

This was not the first time that Inkwazi had been grounded due to mechanical difficulties.

In 2015, Zuma faced intense criticism following reports that R4bn would be spent on acquiring a new plane for him and his entourage.

It was reported that the luxury jet would also have a conference room, bathroom and private bedroom, and would accommodate 30 passengers.

Mosiua Lekota, who was defence minister when Inkwazi was bought, said the price included R300m for the jet, and R108m to fit and decorate the interior, according to News24's archive.

During the outcry over Zuma's R4bn jet, University of Pretoria politics lecturer Roland Henwood told News24 that only US President Barack Obama had a better plane than Zuma.

"There are world leaders who have presidential jets, but they are business jets.

"They are much smaller than what he [Zuma] has at this stage," Henwood said.

"Only President Obama has a better aircraft."

Read more on:    saaf  |  jacob zuma  |  air travel

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