The Democratic Alliance (DA) is deeply concerned by Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu’s reported decision to lease two brand new Embraer Linaege 1000 jets, at the cost of R800 million, for the South African Air Force to transport VIPs.
The tender specifications for the aircraft reportedly included: • being able to transport a minimum of 17 passengers; • sleeping quarters, together with toilet and showers, for two passengers; • onboard computer, facsimile and communications systems; and • two conference facilities for at least six passengers. The tender for leasing the aircraft was reportedly awarded to AdoAir, a company owned by a Nigerian businessman, Adegboyega Olulade.
Why are we spending R800million on aircraft for VIPs when millions of people do not have housing, health and basic services? With R800 million, for example, 10,000 RDP houses could be provided.
The use of the South African Air Force for the purpose of ferrying around VIPs needs close scrutiny. The ministerial handbook is clear: the use of defence force aircraft for these purposes should be the exception, not the rule. The DA will call on Jerome Maake, Chairperson of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, to schedule hearings on the question of VIP flights being provided by the South African Air Force.