Mercenaries piloted Zuma's plane

2011-11-03 23:22

Pretoria - The secretary of defence and chief of the air force have both submitted their resignations because of problems with hired aircraft and mercenary pilots for VIPs.

Mpumi Mpofu, who was appointed defence secretary less than two years ago, resigned with immediate effect two weeks ago.

Ndivhuwo Mabaya, spokesperson for Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, confirmed on Thursday that the air force chief, Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano, has also resigned, but Mabaya said the minister has not yet accepted the resignation as she feels he has to calm down following the stressful and frustrating situation.

Mabaya explained that the frustration stemmed from knowing that money has been allocated to buy proper planes to fly the president and his deputy, but that there is often a delay in the state procurement process.

For Gagiano, the last straw was two weeks ago when Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe had to take a commercial flight to Scandinavia after technical problems grounded the chartered flight booked for his delegation.

A second chartered plane was sent.

Apart from this issue, Sisulu was livid when she found out that charter pilots, who flew President Jacob Zuma to the UN General Assembly in New York in September this year, had served jail sentences for their involvement in the failed Simon Mann coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea in 2004.

Mabaya said the reasons for Mpofu's resignation were confidential, but confirmed that Sisulu is very frustrated with the delay in buying two new planes to fly VIPs.

The contract for the planes was initially awarded to a company owned by a Nigerian group. This company recently sued the air force for delaying the contract.

No plans have yet been finalised for the two planes.

The presidential plane, Inkwazi, has been grounded for two months for servicing.

Two years ago Motlanthe was on a chartered plane that had to make an emergency landing in the dark on an airfield in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a technical problem.

  • Steven - 2011-11-03 23:31

    Why cant they use a commercial airline???1st world government's do!!!

      SuperEbza.Annan - 2011-11-03 23:43

      The US has a special aeroplane used only by Presidents.

      matthew.healing - 2011-11-04 00:25

      Dude it just looks cool when you arrive in your own plane, like when you were matric and you could arrive at school with your own car, and not in the back of you moms kombie with other kids carpooling along.

      Michael - 2011-11-04 03:33

      @Steven, Does Airforce 1 ring a bell? The leaders of old regime also used dedicated aircrafts. Are you saying this because you are bitter?

      George - 2011-11-04 04:25

      As if mercenaries are some sort of animals. They are highly trained competent soldiers. How many of you can pilot a plane from SA to New York? Most mercenaries are in intelligence. I rather stick with mercenaries than dumb politicians who cannot do anything in an emergency. Did not zuma himself spend time in prison? Equatorial guinea is ruled by a cannibal and anyone involved in trying to topple that cannibal is an angel not a mercenary.

      Dirk - 2011-11-04 05:21

      Were the mercenary pilots competence in question? This is the one area where the regime is not interested in AA!

      Peter - 2011-11-04 06:34

      Does the Queen of England have her own plane?

      Dewdawn - 2011-11-04 06:37

      Steven is 100% right that politicians must, note not 'should' but must use commercial airlines. Next thing we know they will want Blue Lights on the planes? @George, please do not lose sight of the fact that the Honourable Minister is an arch racists and the fact that the Merc's are white really upset her.

      Dirk - 2011-11-04 06:59

      I was based in an African country for 7 years. It was generally accepted that the poorer the country, the bigger and flashier the car driven for the ambassador.The American ambassador tried to convey a message by using an ordinary 2ltr modest Ford, but to no avail-it fell on deaf ears

      Grant - 2011-11-04 08:08

      why don't CEOs of large corporates fly commercial? Why do they have to fly in jets?

      johnmichalakis - 2011-11-04 08:08

      they don't use commercial planes coz their fat arses don't fit into first class seats...

      Nosiphom - 2011-11-04 08:29

      You are confused dear Steven. Obama's delegation has Airforce one as well as dummy Airforce one, a C130 with at least one Chopper. Another two or three C130's carrying the convoy of cars. Another palne with bodyguars - maybe actually two so that they do not all parish should it crash. This does not include the planes carrying the forward parties. And by the way America is technically broke. Which first world country are you talking about. I am by no means saying JZ deserves the private jet!

      Sinjoku - 2011-11-04 09:10

      I think the point is being missed here....Merc's are for HIRE, Guns for hire flying around any president is just not a good idea. Nothing to do with race here. I think she has a fair point and reason to be be frustrated. I highly doubt that any country that wants their President save would use Merc's to fly him around. Just seems a bit risky to me. Kidnapped and ransom sounds like a possible scenario.

      Bigwolf - 2011-11-04 10:05

      Steven your right we bail out SAA with tax money often so why cant they assist in getting our president safely around the world?

      Dirk - 2011-11-04 10:38

      It just occurred to me that I would rather have a trained mercenary pilot fly my plain than having the ANC "govern" SA

      drishworth - 2011-11-04 12:58

      I agree with Steven that officials should, where possible, use commercail airlines but who are all you dom kops who are giving the thumbs down to those who have highlighted to Steven that Ist world governments don't use commercail airlines for their heads of state? - unless you don't consider USA and Briatin to be first world governments.

      Comrademayete - 2011-11-04 15:20

      Steven you are lying... 1.The US ..two planes using the air traffic call sign AIRFOCE 1,and countless helicopters under the name MARINE 1 when the president is in them. 2.'With the military burden on the ageing VC10 fleet increasing as the number of aircraft in service decreases, the British Prime Minister has increasingly used chartered jets for long range travel. 3.No. 34 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force operates the current VIP fleet of two 737 Boeing Business Jets and three Challenger 604s for use by Australian officials; in particular the Governor-General, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Leaders of Political Parties not in Government and the Deputy Prime-Minister 4.In 2009, the French National Assembly approved a specific budget of 185 million euros for the purchase and modification of an Airbus A330-223 from Air Caraibes to be reserved for the exclusive use of the President of the Republic 5.Germany uses two Airbus A340-313X VIP aircraft, previously of Germany's Lufthansa, redesigned by Lufthansa Technik as VIP design with sleeping rooms and safety technologies. 6.The Italian Air Force operates three Airbus Corporate Jets. One Airbus is equipped with 30 seats for use by the Prime Minister or President, the other aircraft have 50 seats for use of government officials 7.Japan maintains two Boeing 747-400 aircraft mostly for the Prime Minister, the Emperor, Empress and other members of the Imperial Family. SO YOU SEE YOU ARE LYING.....

      Warren - 2011-11-04 22:54

      @ Grant: That has to be the stupidest question of the year!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let me break it down for you... CEOs spend their own (or the corporates) money to fly in private jets. Politicians spend YOUR money to fly in private jets. Coincidently, this is the same money (tax) earmarked for the poor. When the poor ask the politicians where their money is, they (the politicians) then blame ME... & call me the criminal for good measure!

      Warren - 2011-11-05 00:11

      Eish, after looking at Grant's profile I have a sneaky suspicion he is a troll. (So ja, you got me.)

  • Shoe - 2011-11-03 23:34

    She can resign anytime and not worry about a thing. She will be deployed else where soon. Perhaps she's gonna be the next minister of defense or intelligence. Who cares about the ineptitude of the comrades, when it acutally affects their own?

  • JohhnyBGood - 2011-11-03 23:37

    I cant wait to hear / read / see , the attempts to cover this up. In a commy state, like ours, the excuses will come . . . For the slow people, recall -- Kaduffi.

  • Vic - 2011-11-04 00:20

    Why can't the incompetant government delegations fly like Mr Ordinary Citizen, and stop waisting taxpayers money.Do they feel threatened ?

      En - 2011-11-04 01:05

      Because Mr Ordinary Citizen does have a meeting with the G8 on friday, and have to be in Australia for a Commonwealth Summit on Wednesday. Waiting in line at an airport doesn't always work for a president's schedule (any president).....who would have guessed? When it's possible, fantastic, but sadly it's not. Hence almost every airforce around the world has a VIP jet for the pres, and deputies. Simple as that. You'd still be complaining if you had to wait an extra hour for the police to search the plane for explosives etc etc if the president was to use it, so I doubt any decision they make would make you happy.

      willie.uys - 2011-11-04 08:09

      @ En: I don't know why it should take longer to "search the Plane"? Are you saying that they care less for your and my safety and that our planes aren't searched properly. Comon. I am sure that with proper planning commercial flights will be possible for at least 90% of the time and it will save RMillions!!! Can you imagine what it is costing to have a plane grounded for two months for servicing? How long does it take to service? I believe Gen. Gagiano's resignation also has more to do with just frustration but rather that someone new needs to be appointed!

      Harold - 2011-11-04 08:27

      Thank you I'd rather they use their own planes. With the calls for the heads of government I'd hate to be on a plane with any head of state, they're too much of a security riak.

      Azande - 2011-11-04 10:08

      @vic, president is not an "ordinary citizen" hence he has his own security guards unlike ordinary citizen. its called risk assessment and mitigation as well as impact analysis should the worst occur. @En, you hit the nail on the head, i cannot expalin your words more. @willie, i don't think you understand En, your risk level is definitely not as high as the president's hence you drive around in your own car and no one actually notices nor cares whether you do or not. This does not in any way say you are less important than the president.

      Warren - 2011-11-05 00:26

      @ Azande: Lol, maybe you should read through your comment before posting it. P.S. When the president goes to the toilet I'm pretty sure he does the same ordinary thing as you & me.

  • Jacqui - 2011-11-04 01:13

    I find commercial flying much safer.... most plains that don't make it happenes to be private ones... Anyway... Impressive to have your own... then again, Who are you trying to impress? When your country(one like USA) can afford it, you are welcome to it..... the people paying todays taxes will not live forever....

      Warren - 2011-11-05 00:50

      2010.....G.D.P..............Unemployment.....Poverty......Population USA: $14.582 trillion............9%..............15%........312,515,000 RSA: $363,704 billion............25%.............25%.........50,000,000

      Patrick - 2012-01-20 07:37

      @warren i think u got that population figure wrong, its more like 65+ million including all the illegals!!!

  • Van - 2011-11-04 01:47

    Pity we did not know about it earlier. Surely we could have raised some funds for the pilots to dump zoomer somewhere remote.

  • mpiyakhe.dhlamini - 2011-11-04 01:49

    what is our intelligence doing if they can't vet people who will be flying the president?

      Van - 2011-11-04 01:52

      Ironic that the VIP scumbags are criminals and so is the NI. Who wants to kill zoomer anyway? Will it be a loss if it did happen? Don't think so.

      Kevin - 2011-11-04 07:18

      A good job

  • Nikki Bodenstein - 2011-11-04 01:56

    Mercenaries please come fetch zoomer and malema and drop them off somewhere far away like Syberia.

      Owen - 2011-11-04 03:32

      I really think you have issues dude mostly about SA why don't you live else where. maybe you don't really understand half of what is going on right under your nose please grow up. you think you are funny wake up call you try so hard but its really not for clearly try something else.

      Warren - 2011-11-05 01:01

      @ Owen: Why don't you tell Nikki Bodenstein how lovely Canada is, lol.

      Patrick - 2012-01-20 07:41

      @owen.. u sound like an INCREDIBLY clever boy!!! WOW!!!

  • moeletsiblackdiamond - 2011-11-04 05:04

    why we don't have news in South Sotho why please someone tell me why ?????????

      Azande - 2011-11-04 10:16

      @piet, that's not funny, grow up. @marazor,.... bastard u got me there hahahaha....its actually not bad idea @moeletsi, u perhaps need to organize a march to union building from Free State to express you concern.

  • clivegoss - 2011-11-04 05:27

    You get old pilots then you get bold pilots. There are no old bold pilots. Our own pres rather fly "Coconut Airways" than SAA ! ! Is he trying to tell us something ?

  • Arthur - 2011-11-04 05:39

    He is a very lucky prezzzz, at least they are highly skilled and trained professionals that can take the place of his bodyguards to cart him around the world. And guess what, he arrived safely.

      Ally - 2011-11-04 09:31

      He arrived safely this time. However, next time the mercenaries might whisk him off to an unknown destination. Please can we start donating funds to make this happen pretty damn soon? Please, please, please ... and if the mercenaries can take along the whole bang-shoot incompetent cabinet too, we'd be most grateful.

  • Jou - 2011-11-04 06:03

    Damn....that means we were very close to taking him out!

  • johnwilliam.roberts - 2011-11-04 06:05

    arfica is not america they are not corrupt thats why the american president has his own plane !

      Mthuthuzeli - 2011-11-04 07:44

      American politics is so routinely corrupt no-one even bothers to comment on it.

      Mike - 2011-11-04 07:52

      So give us examples of the routinely corrupt USA.

  • Brian - 2011-11-04 06:08

    I'm not sure that I read this correctly ...... the planes are being supplied by a NIGERIAN company? Why? Surely any one of the aircraft manufacturers would supply direst, why use a Nigerian middle-man? How do you spell corruption?

      Dirk - 2011-11-04 07:09

      The Nigerian has connections and pays the best kick-backs. Inkwazi, the SA plane is in for repairs- 2 months now. Perhaps the same little mistake as with the submarine.Wrong electricity current- Result? Millions damage and out of action! Hau!

      Kevin - 2011-11-04 07:23

      Well -It's a third cousin twice promoted and bribed 3 times and we owed him a favour and well at twice the price of anyone else it was a good deal.

  • Russell - 2011-11-04 06:33


      tony.kirby1 - 2011-11-04 08:39

      its being serviced in Switzerland

      Harold - 2011-11-04 08:49

      Interesting,the thumbs up here makes you wonder how many actually read the full article. Second paragraph from the bottom tells you.

      shaun.cousins1 - 2011-11-04 12:26

      They replacing a showerhead, can imagine how many hours its clocked up...

  • Guy - 2011-11-04 06:39

    I love been wright when it comes to ANC cockups!

      Mpendulo - 2011-11-04 10:39

      Wright...? a lesson in spelling I think would suffice before taking the high ground in politics

      Kevin - 2011-11-04 10:40

      So Easy

  • swavka - 2011-11-04 07:03

    So the pilots had served terms in jail - they were in good company, seeing that most of the ANC had been or should be in jail. I thought having been in jail was a criteria for getting a position in government.

  • steve.dupreez - 2011-11-04 07:21

    "The contract for the planes was initially awarded to a company owned by a Nigerian group." - How ironic - the corrupt supporting the corrupt

  • Gerhard - 2011-11-04 07:29

    Now we know how our tax money is spent.

  • Mike - 2011-11-04 07:30

    You see Zooooomer does not trust SAA. Who can blame him. Zooooooomer does not trust the black dudes, he trusts only the wjite dudes.

  • Ali - 2011-11-04 07:38

    They have served their jail time and paid their debt to society. BTW Equatorial Guinea isn't Disneyland you know..dictator scumbag. If they succeeded they probably would have been heroes for liberating the people.

      Kevin - 2011-11-04 10:51

      You call cold blooded killers who do it for money as having paid there debt to society .I think all the victims families might disagree. These professional killers should never be allowed back into mainstream society. Can you imagine them being pilots for SAA . Good morning , This is your Captain speaking . We will be taking off 10 minutes late as the 2nd in charge was held up whilst doing a hit.People do not always die the way we plan. Sorry for the inconvenience and enjoy the flight.

  • Erich - 2011-11-04 07:39

    Obtain the services of redundant Russian pilots in stead of mercenary pilots. Their fees are competative as long as they are plied with sufficient vodka.

      Johnson - 2012-01-21 09:19

      and they know how to fly old planes Erich, you dont need to hire any new planes

  • jansteyn4 - 2011-11-04 07:41

    Why buy planes from Nigerians? Something stinks.

      Azande - 2011-11-04 10:22

      britain smells goo hee?

      Johnson - 2012-01-21 09:20

      Nigeria - an African country selling planes - my word. They can never build and sell planes until God Comes Back

  • Myth - 2011-11-04 07:46

    I wonder how the pilot's felt, knowing they had a dodgy president in their plane?

  • eslombe - 2011-11-04 07:49

    Guys grow up, you are Africs biggest economy and you are flying you head of state in a chartered Aircraft crewed by mercenaries..... why not charter a plane from SAA atleast their pilots have credible back grounds.... you just won the JOKERS of the year awards.

  • tendani.rasivhetshele - 2011-11-04 07:52

    Honestly now, do u expect Zuma to fly with Mango? The president must have his own private plane. Stop this crap behaviour

      JanPiet - 2011-11-04 09:34

      The main COCONUT of a BANANA republic should definitely fly MANGO

  • Shanna - 2011-11-04 07:53

    Goes to show .....why chartered planes why not commercial flights. All they want is to wast our money as usual.

  • Ian - 2011-11-04 07:58

    this article isnt about the pilots serving jail time, i reckon its more that the pilots werent effermetif

  • sean.redmond3 - 2011-11-04 07:59

    "The presidential plane, Inkwazi, has been grounded for two months for servicing" Two months??? What, nobody know how to service the plane?

      Harold - 2011-11-04 08:34

      Probably been sent overseas as most (if not all) of our engineers don't live here anymore thanks to Coleman Andews

  • Kevin - 2011-11-04 08:00

    Why put our presidents life at risk because of poor administrative issue why not get SAA to have to dedicate aircraft's for the VIPs and give them good pilots who are serving in the South African Air Force lets empower our people .

  • cgaertz - 2011-11-04 08:03

    not surprising. jailbirds flock together.

  • Washington - 2011-11-04 08:26

    I am told New Zealand prime minister flies economy class. Why why why is it that in Africa with all this poverty we burn so many dollars in flying our VIPs around the globe. We need to get our priorities right otherwise we shall always wallow in a vicious cycle of poverty and deprivation.

      Ian - 2011-11-04 09:52

      and fat boy flies business or first to go on spending sprees and 10 milliom rand holidays

  • mengelbrecht1 - 2011-11-04 08:26

    So who screens the chater company that allows convicted criminals to fly the president of the country around the world? Maybe the pilots have been tried and tested in their field and have been found acceptable

  • Paul - 2011-11-04 08:33

    I think the real question that should be asked is why the airforce is buying planes from a Nigerian company. The probable answer is that they provide the biggest kickbacks.

  • bheki.dingiswayo - 2011-11-04 08:36

    Do they manufacture planes in Nigeria? Please help,!!!

      Kevin - 2011-11-04 10:56

      No , everything is in Nigeria is stolen and recycled. There are not enough skills to make anything in Nigeria.

  • Malcolm - 2011-11-04 08:45

    SuperEbza, I like to think South Africans aren't as stupid and wasteful as Americans.Our President should use a commercial airline. It may do him some good to sit next to a normal South African and have a chat. He may get an idea whats going on in the country.

  • Fran - 2011-11-04 08:47

    Now we have dangerous criminals drawing salary from our tax money, how pathetic? What if this people decide to kidnap the president for a ransom?

      JanPiet - 2011-11-04 09:20

      The dangerous criminal was not piloting, he was the main peanut in the back.

  • Siyabonga - 2011-11-04 08:49

    this is funny coz non of you has considered the issue of logistics, and commercial planes are run on schedules with most of them not travelling directly to certain countries, but then again why bother its just another lame excuse to bash the government

  • Kala - 2011-11-04 08:59

    The mercenaries are scoping out Mr. Zuma's travel plans in order to plan more properly for their future coupe attempt.

      rodal262 - 2012-11-23 10:25

      Wake up and smell the coffee. Who actually cares who flys Zuma where? Here's a thought. Should dangerous convicted " criminals" fly dangerous unconvicted "criminals" around?

  • Marc - 2011-11-04 08:59

    So the presidents plane was piloted by a person who served time in Equitorial Guinea for a failed coup attempt? What a disgrace!! It's the president for heaven's sake. From now on the president plane must only be piloted by people who have been involved in successful coup attempts. Not failed ones. What an outrage.

  • Winsome - 2011-11-04 09:16

    The Presidential plane was grounded for servicing? For 2 months? Isn't that a little excessive? Maybe I don't know what I am talking about - but how long does it take to service a plane? 2 months? Why not fly SAA then? but then the service on SAA is dismal to say the least - perhaps that's why.

  • Brandon - 2011-11-04 09:17

    "The contract for the planes was initially awarded to a company owned by a Nigerian group." Are you telling me that this contract could not be awarded to an SA company? No wonder we are shedding jobs and the government is wondering why?

  • Winsome - 2011-11-04 09:21

    There are good pilots in the Air Force? Used to be - but no longer. And besides that, have they done a conversion to commercial planes?

  • Jacqui - 2011-11-04 09:29

    Another Jacqui here now?.

  • Paas - 2011-11-04 09:46

    Carlo Gagiano cant be an ANC member, he took the fall and resigned because the clowns he relies on cocked up.

  • Mart - 2011-11-04 09:55

    Conspiracy theories must abound. My guess is that this government has many on the payroll who are used to influence situations in an around Africa. Such a pity that they are used for personal gain by those pulling the strings, and not in the interests of the South African Public. I would be a bit disappointed if they aren't being used.

  • Leah Adams - 2011-11-04 10:16

    Nothing these baffoons do makes any sense.

  • Cynthia - 2011-11-04 10:59

    Imagine if Jacob Zuma and his entourage all travelled like the rest of South Africans on SAA, Velvet Sky, Mango etc etc, imagine how much money we would save and then imagine how many houses can be built with the money saved on repairs, fuel and so on. Wouldn't that be something? It would probably warrant world headlines like "Present Jacob Zuma and his entourage flies SAA to help build houses for the poor". Like that would ever happen.

  • Jacob - 2011-11-04 11:41

    Will we be so lucky as to have the criminal in chief's plane crash?

  • Pierre - 2011-11-04 12:07

    Why angry, nobody in government check anything. a Sex addict with R18m debt becomes a judge just because he is black with a law degree. No fit and proper test. Bond out buildings are leased to the police(and other gov dept.) at inflated values, nobody check what the market rate. Pilot with criminal record are employed. Nobody check or think. Just get on the payroll/gravy train. This is not sustainable ask the Greeks/Somalis/Zimbabweans- Africa

      Johnson - 2012-01-21 09:28

      Yengeni a, criminal employed to advice government at this point in time on the way forward for our Military - One criminal can be employed by the ANC because he is black and was a MK, as if MK was any force at the time - my word. Two standards - One for the ANC criminal and One for the Rest of the Country