R3.5bn from Airbus to boost defence budget

2012-05-19 14:38

The money that the South African National Defence Force has successfully recovered from French aircraft manufacturer Airbus will go towards beefing up the defence budget.

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu confirmed that R3.5 billion, which includes interest accrued over the years has been paid by Airbus into the National Treasury account after the cancellation of an A400M heavy-lift aircraft acquisition.

The recovered money will be channelled back to the Department of Defence, said Sisulu. It was for the purchase of eight A400M military transporters to replace the aging Hercules C-130.

“I’ve written to the Treasury and asked the minister (Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan) to return that money to the Defence Force,” said Sisulu.

Government will use the money for defence.

“This was money taken from the Defence Force. We sacrificed the Airbus so that we can have it back.”

Sisulu said the money would be used to improve soldiers’ working conditions, some of it would go towards funding maritime security programmes while the rest would be used to renew the military’s fleet of VVIP aircraft.

Said Sisulu: “(The) Airbus cancellation did not mean that our need (for VVIP aircraft) is cancelled. We’ll come back to it. Our fleet is aging, some of them are 30 years old”.

In Parliament during Sisulu’s Budget Vote speech this week, Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier slammed the minister for failing to brief the portfolio committee responsible for oversight, on the preparedness of the military.

Maynier said that could only mean the defence force was not prepared to defend South Africa.

“We do know President Jacob Zuma will have to wave a big white flag in the event of an attack. He will have no other option but to surrender,” said Maynier.

He said parliamentary oversight over the department of defence had “collapsed”.

» Read an interview with Sisulu in City Press on Sunday.

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