South African president’s luxury jet request criticized

Opposition in South Africa asks government to renounce plans to provide President Jacob Zuma with new jet costing 4bn rand ($280m)

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

It has been reported that the office of South African President Jacob Zuma’s on Thursday had requested a new jet with an estimated cost of R4-billion ($280m dollar) from the Department of Defence.

Those requirements include a condition that the aircraft to be acquired must be capable of carrying 30 passengers in a VIP configuration over a distance of 13,800 km without stopping to refuel and with the usual safety reserves.

Zuma’s office also requested the department ensure that the public is briefed on the matter as much as possible but without compromising security.

The Defense Department has announced that the new presidential plane would replace the present one. The present one is named "Ikwazi" and has landed several times because of mechanical defects.

South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance party has said President Jacob Zuma should show leadership by publicly insisting that government plans to provide him with the new jet are scrapped.

The present presidential jet ‘’Ikwazi’’.

On Sunday, Democratic Alliance spokesman Kobus Marais said, "In strained financial times‚ and with more important priorities needing funding‚ the President cannot possibly ‘need’ such a luxury."

Also "He added that there were more sensible and cost effective options to ensure the president’s safe travel."

Zuma has faced criticism in the last few years over government spending of nearly $20 million on his homestead.

It is not the first time a new aircraft for President Zuma has been proposed. The last few occasions those plans never came to fruition. It is likely that the purchase of a new plane will again be postponed due to the current political atmosphere. 

TRTWorld and agencies