Following President Zuma’s private jet’s failure to take off last Friday, the South African National Defence Force said President Jacob Zuma requires a new jet urgently as the current plane Inkwazi, “is compromising his safety and it is embarrassing”.
The defence force said they have already established contact with Armcor for procurement of a new presidential jet. The agency is expected to deliver a brand new jet to the tune of around R4 billion.
“We’ve been engaging with our procurement agency Armcor, which is the responsible authority for procurement. And yes I can confirm that in view of this perpetual problem, we’re planning to re-look at all options available to us, to deal with this matter urgently.”
President Jacob Zuma was left stranded in Burundi after the presidential Boeing, Inkwazi, developed technical problems last Friday. He was on a peace talk mission with four other African heads of state. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said the technical problem the presidential jet experienced in Burundi was due to a leak.
The SANDF said it chartered a plane to Bujumbura from Waterkloof Air Force Base in the early hours of Saturday to fetch the president home. This was not the first time that Inkwazi had been grounded due to mechanical difficulties.
Speaking about the necessity of the presidential jet, SANDF spokesman Simphiwe Dlamini postulated that it is not to ideal to jeopardize the life of the president.
“We need it [the jet] like yesterday. Not even tomorrow. It is very critical. This is not an isolated incident”. As for those who think that the costly jet belongs to the president Zuma, Dlamini made it clear that “It is not even for the president, it is for the state.”
As expected, other political parties in South Africa deemed the cost of the presidential jet to be on the high side. The Democratic Alliance’s Kobus Marais said, “If it’s flying maximum 600 hours a year to compare that with a commercial airline of the same type of aircraft, then this is still a brand new aircraft.”
In 2015, Zuma faced intense criticism following reports that R4bn would be spent on acquiring a new plane for him and his entourage. And when the present presidential jet Inkwazi was acquired, it cost R300m for the jet, and R108m to fit and decorate the interior.
President Zuma’s failure to return to South Africa led Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to stand in for him at the African National Congress Women’s League fundraising gala dinner in Sandton last Friday night. The president was expected to deliver the keynote note address
Addressing the audience during the occasion, deputy president Ramaphosa said , “He went to the airport and sought to get into his plane and it would not move so he’s stuck there and he can’t come back home. We might have to send another plane to fetch him.”