Government will buy a new VVIP jet for the presidency, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Wednesday.
She however rubbished that it would cost up to R4 billion.
“Buying the VVIP aircraft, we will. But not for [President Jacob] Zuma. There will be a president after Zuma. The VVIP aircraft is not being procured because there is President Zuma who will use it,” she told reporters ahead of her budget vote speech in Parliament.
There would be another president after Zuma retired in 2019, even if he was from another party.
“The VVIP aircraft will still be there.”
It would be bought to ensure that government officials, the president and deputy president, were always safe.
Mapisa-Nqakula said they had never mentioned the cost of the aircraft, and she did not know where the R4 billion figure had come from.
“We would never ever sit here and say we will spend R4 billion on aircraft. Not when South Africans are starving and students are calling for fees to fall.”
It would be irresponsible of her to mention a figure of how much they were willing to spend. She said they had wanted to get the new jet by March, but had missed the deadline.
As a consequence, government had to charter planes whenever there was a problem with the existing jet.
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 to compromise the security, safety of our principals,” she said.
She said several times this year, Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa were left stranded or late for events due to breakdowns of the presidential Boeing 737, known as Inkwazi.