Sisulu gives DA MP a flea in his ear on private jets question

2012-11-14 00:00

IN the middle of a row about her expensive jet flights in the National Assembly yesterday, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told a Democratic Alliance MP he has a “flea-infested body”.

When she was asked to withdraw the remark, the Speaker, her brother Max, said he would investigate the matter.

In a parliamentary reply earlier this month, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Sisulu’s successor as minister of defence, said Sisulu had undertaken about 203 private jet flights between 2009 and 2012, for which the Department of Defence had paid.

Sisulu said in response that she had been on only 35 flights with Gulfstream jets chartered by the air force and had used this option only when the air force’s VIP jets were not available.

Yesterday in the National Assembly, she said, “I stand by what I said earlier: I went on only 35 flights.”

Sisulu has now turned to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and the Speaker regarding the matter.

It is unclear why she has appealed to Motlanthe. It is also unclear how her brother will be able to help her, since the Department of Defence is not expected to amend its information.

DA MP David Maynier said most of the flights took place between Pretoria and Cape Town. “It cost the taxpayer up to R200 000 every time to transport her in that way.”

Sisulu then attacked Maynier, saying he was talking rubbish and nonsense.

“DA MP Maynier with his flea-infested body should rather sit down,” she said.

She was asked on a point of order to withdraw her remark.

Maynier said in response that clearly one of the ministers was wrong.

“I have a strong suspicion it is not the current minister of Defence who is wrong,” he said.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said on Monday that if the statistics on Sisulu’s flights are accurate, it is a shame and an enormous waste of taxpayer money.

“These flights are alleged to have cost up to R68 000 an hour. Meanwhile, a return ticket on a commercial airline between Johannesburg and Cape Town currently costs an estimated R4 899,” he said.

Cosatu has asked the public protector to investigate the matter.

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