The Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Kobus Marais has flawed Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakila’s claims on the fitness of President Jacob Zuma’s private jet Inkwazi; against a backdrop of recurring technical fault.
Speaking after a supervision at the South African Air Force (SAAF), Marais disclosed that Mapisa-Nqakila’s widely accepted claim that the “Inkwazi has been grounded due to safety reasons” was false; because he found out during his visit that SAAF Chief Lieutenant-General Fabian Msimang has not received any complaint on the jet’s unreliability.
Secondly, the opposition MP stated that during his visit; he learnt that the Inkwazi was recently used for training new pilots for the BBJ, and to fly some senior officers to Langebaan Air Force Base and other bases.
MP Kobus Marais Unhappy With Minister’s Report
With the foregoing, Marais expressed disappointment that the minister deceived the country into believing that the Inkwazi has been unreliable.
“Msimang has not received complaints by the Presidency that Inkwazi is unreliable. Why then does minister Mapisa-Nqakula insist we spent R273 972 per day for the lease of a presidential jet for Zuma when it is unnecessary?” MP Kobus Marais asked rhetorically.
Validating his claims, he said the Chief of the SAAF expressed pride in the reliability of the presidential jet; but that he raised concern over the inadequate budget allocated for its spare parts and routine maintenance.
Earlier this month, Aviation expert; Darren Olivier; concurred with a source that told reporters that “There is no logical reason for not flying Inkwazi.
“All indications are that Inkwazi has flown fewer than 10,000 flight cycles, and is accumulating them at far fewer than 1,000 a year. It can keep flying for decades before it becomes unsafe,” argued Olivier.
South African National Defence Union leader Pikkie Greeff; who weighed in on the controversial issue; said he received reliable information from the maintenance staff that “the aircraft is in 100% condition, and it’s sitting there gathering dust.”
Their reactions followed by SA defence minister’s claim that Inkwazi is unreliable and remains grounded at Air Force Base Waterkloof.