Officials tight-lipped on JZ’s holiday to Bazaruto

2013-03-07 00:00

PRETORIA — Government officials and state employees yesterday remained tight-lipped about the costs of President Jacob Zuma’s weekend break at Bazaruto on the Mozambican coast.

Zuma took a breather after the budget speech in Parliament last week.

Brigadier-General Xolani Mabanga, spokesperson of the Department of Defence, yesterday responded to queries by saying the department does not comment on the logistical arrangements, costs of, or trips taken by the president.

“Such information is confidential because of security risks,” he said.

Mac Maharaj, spokesperson for the presidency, said that the president took a rest for a few days. Maharaj said everything was done according to the rules, with the Departments of State Security and Defence handling all the arrangements.

This after a recent visit by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to Seychelles had sparked questions over the level of expense which is allowed in terms of the secret rule book which has the state paying for the private transport costs and security of the president and deputy president.

Motlanthe and his entourage reportedly ran up a travelling bill of about R1 million.

Zuma and his entourage caused a flurry of excitement and resentment in Vilanculos when he visited there en route to Bazaruto.

Other holidaymakers had to make way when Zuma’s bodyguards landed on Thursday.

Zuma was flown to Mozambique in one of the Air Force’s smaller jets — not to save costs, but because the large presidential jet cannot land on Vilanculos’s short landing strip.

Instead, the president reportedly flew alone in a Falcon 50, without luggage or any of his wives.

Two Oryx helicopters of the South African Air Force waited for the jet at Vilanculos to transport the president to Bazaruto.

The island only has five-star resorts and has a reputation as a playground for the very rich.

Sister paper Die Burger reliably learned that Zuma (70) was told by his doctors to rest. He recently suffered from a bad dose of the ’flu.

The trip to the island meant that he missed the birthday of his wife Sizakele MaKhumalo at Nkandla.

Since his return, Zuma has travelled to Durban for his annual medical checkup. Maharaj said the doctors had declared Zuma a healthy man.

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