The Democratic Alliance (DA) has launched an online petition against the purchase of a presidential jet, the party said on Saturday.
In a speech prepared for delivery at a youth event in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said South Africa was experiencing a “chronic jobs crisis” and that the money for the proposed new plane could be better used in other areas.
“The ANC government finds it appropriate to announce that President Zuma will be handed a brand new luxury presidential jet – estimated to cost the public R4-billion.
“This despite the fact that the president’s current jet remains, in terms of aircraft standards, relatively new and fit for purpose,” Maimane said.
He said the R4-billion could pay for work opportunities, support new entrepreneurs with start-up grants or to pay for full National Student Financial Aid Scheme bursaries.
The DA “unanimously reject” the purchase of the plane and described it as a waste of public funds, he said.
“We therefore petition President Zuma, as the head of state, to reverse the decision to procure a new presidential jet for his official travel.
“Given our current economic climate and our country’s record high unemployment crisis, South Africa cannot afford to spend R4-billion on a luxury jet for the president which he simply does not need,” Maimane said.
He urged all South Africans to sign the petition.
A matter of security
In May, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said there was no way to avoid buying a new jet for the presidency.
Mapisa-Nqakula said government had to charter planes whenever there was a problem with the existing jet, Inkwazi.
At present, government was preparing to lease an aircraft, while waiting to buy the new one.
“One thing we are not going to do is compromise the security [or] safety of our principals,” she said.
She said that Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had, several times this year, been left stranded or been late for events due to the presidential Boeing 737 breaking down.
She said the plane was not being purchased for Zuma alone as it would serve other members of the executive after Zuma’s term in office had come to an end.
Earlier this month, the DA submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application for the presidential jet’s maintenance records. – News24