Parties continue to weigh in on VVIP jet

2016-05-12 14:28
President Jacob Zuma is pictured arriving in Algiers with his jet in the background. (Sidali Djarbhoub, AP)

President Jacob Zuma is pictured arriving in Algiers with his jet in the background. (Sidali Djarbhoub, AP)

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Cape Town – Political parties on Thursday continued to weigh in on the defence department’s plan to buy a VVIP jet for the presidency.

The Congress of the People’s Dennis Bloem questioned the affordability of the move, especially since the country was now reportedly the third largest economy in Africa, down one spot from second.

Bloem’s comments come after Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Wednesday confirmed the department’s plan to by a jet.

- Read more: VVIP jet will be bought - but not just for Zuma

The minister insisted that the department had an obligation to buy the VVIP presidential jet, but Bloem said it should be at the bottom of the list of priorities.

"The ruling party has to prioritise people over an executive jet. Government expenditure on a jet for Mr Zuma must reflect our increasing poverty as a nation. The minister of defence herself acknowledged that the country has other urgent priorities. She must therefore put the purchase of a jet lower down in the list of priorities," he said in a statement on Thursday.

He called for Treasury to get involved in the decisions.

Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald questioned the department’s ability to afford a new jet.

"If just the purchase of the jet is cancelled, the department will immediately save R4.3bn of the R5bn it needs," he said.

On Wednesday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane implored Zuma to make a public announcement rejecting the purchase of the jet. It would be the responsible thing to do, he said.

Mapisa-Nqakula on Wednesday insisted they would never say they were going to spend R4bn on the jet.

She said the price was thumb sucked, though she refused to divulge how much the department was willing to spend.

Mapisa-Nqakula confirmed on Wednesday that the purchase of the VVIP jet would go ahead in a bid to ensure the safety of the president and his deputy.

"Buying the VVIP aircraft, we will. But not for [President Jacob] Zuma. There will be a president after Zuma. The VVIP aircraft is not being procured because there is President Zuma who will use it," she said.

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