It looks like President Jacob Zuma is flying into yet another storm after his controversial multi-billion rand jet purchase was given the green light.
When the news about the president getting a luxury R4 billion jet broke last year, there was a public and political outcry, slamming Zuma for wasting taxpayers money.
But now Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has announced that the jet will not be for Zuma alone.
Mapisa-Nqakula says the jet will be to transport South Africa’s VVIPs, including JZ and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.
Briefing journalists ahead of tabling her department’s budget in Parliament, Mapisa-Nqakula hit out at those suggesting the price tag for the aircraft would be R4 billion.
“I think now what is causing the problem is that somebody woke up one day and said the defence force is going to spend R4 billion at a time when the economy is not doing well and obviously every South African is up in arms.
“We would never sit here and say we will spend R4 billion on an aircraft.”
The minister stressed that the acquisition was urgent as both the presidential jet, Inkwazi, and the plane transporting Ramaphosa had run into technical problems, endangering their safety.
“We have a responsibility to do it. It has to be done,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.
“We would probably spend far less than we are spending on chartering. Whenever there is a problem we have to charter an aircraft for the president and deputy president.
“We are now preparing to lease an aircraft and we are going to lease aircraft while we are in the process of procuring one for the VVIPs,” the minister said.