'New jet for Zuma will buy 16 Nkandlas'

Cape Town - Plans to acquire a new luxury presidential jet with an estimated price tag of R4bn is the equivalent of sixteen Nkandlas and the Gupta's are likely to score big.

This is according to DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who dubbed, in his newsletter, the potential new jet for President Jacob Zuma as "Nkandla Air".

"[W]e have to do everything in our power to stop the acquisition of this jet – let’s call it Nkandla Air – and all such future schemes before they get off the ground."

Maimane said South Africa can't afford to be buying a jet while the already ailing economy shrinks and amid soaring joblessness.

The economy contracted by 1.2% in the first quarter of 2016. There are 8.9 million unemployed adults in South Africa - 5.9 million of who are under the age of 35.

The R246m spent on Zuma's Nkandla homestead, Maimane noted, is a picnic compared to what the government is planning to spend on Zuma’s new jet.

The president has been ordered to pay back R7.8m for non-security upgrades to his home.

"Nkandla Air is the equivalent of sixteen Nkandlas!

"South Africa simply cannot afford this jet and we have to stop it before it takes off."

He claimed this purchase, as with other state deals, will open up another gateway to corrupt activities.

"The arms deal, Nkandla, the nuclear deal, and a new jet for Zuma are all projects designed primarily to open new avenues for theft on a grand scale. We need to see these massive ventures for what they really are: corruption-enablers.

"And I suspect that, as with the nuclear deal and Nenegate, there is a distinct possibility of Gupta involvement," said Maimane.

In August last year, a Gupta-owned jet was leased to transport Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and a government delegation on an official trip to Japan.

The Bombardier jet was leased to government for R5m by Execujet, and belongs to Westdawn Investments - a company owned by the Gupta family and Zuma's son, Duduzane.

"So the Guptas are definitely aware of this opportunity for further enrichment that their close relationship with Zuma could facilitate. But, regardless of who exactly stands to benefit and what their true motives are, the crux of the matter is that South Africa cannot afford this jet," said Maimane.

He said after launching the DA’s “Jobs not Jets” billboard on Thursday, he handed over a memorandum to the ANC leadership at Luthuli House asking them to cancel their plans to acquire a new jet.

"With R4bn we could pay for over 160 000 one-year internships for young South Africans; or for 600 000 three-month work opportunities for jobless South Africans; or we could support 80 000 new entrepreneurs with a R50 000 start-up grant each; or we could fund 53 000 full bursaries to cover fees, accommodation, transport and textbooks for young South Africans."

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