Zuma flew old school to Paris

2015-12-03 21:11
President Jacob Zuma.

President Jacob Zuma.

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Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma went old school for his trip to the climate change talks in Paris this week, using the Boeing bought for his predecessor Thabo Mbeki.

After howls of outrage over a possible R4bn splash-out for new wings for him and his entourage, Zuma flew to France on the humble SAAF-BBJ.

This was also after an outcry over Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa flying on a plane leased from a company with links to the Gupta family and Zuma's son Duduzane.

Known as the Inkwazi or Fish Eagle, and handed over to the SA Air Force in 2001, the 18-seater Boeing was a snip at R408m.

Mosiua Lekota, who was defence minister when the Inkwazi was bought, said the price included R300m for the jet, and R108m to fit and decorate the interior, according to News24's archive.

Lekota is now the leader of the opposition Congress of the People after leaving the ANC during a power struggle between Mbeki and Zuma. He has condemned plans to spend R4b on a new jet.

Zuma's trip to Paris was to help rally countries on climate change measures at the 21st Conference of the Parties, and to lobby for a Green Fund to help developing countries make the changes that will contribute to keeping climate change within an agreed two degrees celcius limit.

Environment Minister Edna Molewa accompanied him on the trip, which was expected to be the biggest ever gathering of presidents. The meeting came ahead of a United Nations climate change summit.

Considered the pride of the SA Airforce'S VIP 21 Squadron, the Inkwazi can get to Europe without refuelling, but is known to have had some maintenance issues in the past.

The Presidency has in the past said that the president and his deputy have nothing to do with the choice of aircraft. If there are not enough pilots or planes, they lease from companies like Execujet and that is why Ramaphosa had ended up on the Gupta-linked plane.

But finding out which plane Zuma used to fly to Paris seemed to be a sensitive topic for the Presidency.

Spokesperson Bongani Majola wanted to know why News24 thought it could ask a question like that, and a question on whether Zuma took a wife with him, and whether he had taken extra security with him, given the recent terror attacks in Paris.

The department of defence provided the details of the aircraft in which he flew.

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  jacob zuma  |  france  |  aviation

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