The Presidency on Wednesday denied allegations made by aviation experts that President Jacob Zuma preferred chartered aircraft, and said the South African Air Force (SAAF) aircraft fleet were used to transport him and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Zuma and Ramaphosa utilise aircraft provided by the SAAF and only use chartered flights when SAAF fleet is unavailable, Zuma’s spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said in a statement.
“Currently both the president and deputy president have been transported in chartered aircraft locally and abroad due to non-availability of reliable aircraft within the SAAF fleet,” Ngqulunga said.
“The Presidency agrees with the experts that the use of smaller aircraft for local travel and the general use of the SAAF fleet than hiring aircraft would be more cost-effective for government.”
This comes as aviation experts have grown critical of Zuma’s use of privately chartered aircraft for official use.
Earlier this month, Zuma attended the G20 Summit in a China using a luxurious Gulfstream-G550 that belongs to Bestfly from Angola, while other ministers flew commercial.
Zuma’s official travel has often been delayed or rerouted of late due to “technical problems” suffered by his official aircraft, Inkwazi.
On Wednesday, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said negotiations were under way to procure a new presidential aircraft within the next 18 months. The department has committed R100 million for a jet for the 2016-17 financial year.
– African News Agency (ANA)