Jacob Zuma takes ‘R6m chartered flight’ to US

2014-09-23 17:23

President Jacob Zuma used a chartered plane to travel to the United States, says the defence department.

“The presidential aircraft is on a scheduled service and therefore not available. The option of chartering depends on the availability of the presidential aircraft,” said defence spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini.

He did not say how much the flight would cost, saying that was based on the National Treasury contract and the services rendered, and this would be reported in the department’s annual report.

However, the SABC reported today that the flight cost about R6 million.

Zuma arrived in the United States on Sunday. He was expected to address the United Nations general assembly meeting in New York tomorrow.

His spokesperson Mac Maharaj said the president would use the occasion to thank the UN and the international community for supporting South Africa as it marked 20 years of democracy.

Zuma would hold a special reception to thank the international community.

He would also attend a number of side events forming part of the UN assembly’s programme, said Maharaj.

Zuma will be accompanied by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, State Security Minister David Mahlobo, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, Co-operative Governance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo.

In 2012, Mapisa-Nqakula cancelled plans to buy a R2 billion presidential jet.

She then reportedly said last year that the defence force would buy new presidential jets and planes as soon as possible.

She said the department was spending millions on chartering aircraft because many of the current planes were so old.

“Every week we pay millions of rand chartering aircraft for strategic airlift capability, which far exceeds the money we would have spent by purchasing,” said Mapisa-Nqakula at the time.

“If you look at some of our aircraft, they’re 60 to 62 years old and should be museum pieces. I won’t elaborate on some of the experiences I’ve had..., but this process [to buy aircraft] must begin.”

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