The Economic Freedom Fighters said the plan to spend R2-billion or tax payers’ money by the South African Air Force to purchase the VIP jets – including one Boeing Business Jet and two Falcon 900 Business Jets – is “part of the parasitic, unnecessary and wasteful spending which puts a strain on the fiscal resources of the country”.
The EFF points out that the plan is contradiction of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s budget statement in which he indicated how South Africa needs to cut spending since the fiscal resources are strained. “Nene’s solution to get more resources to run the country was in the form of raising personal income tax, value added tax, electricity and fuel levies. In essence this R2 billion will be coming from taxes of both the poor and rich South Africans to simply ensure the comfort of President Zuma and his cabinet as opposed to the types of spending that will result in growth and the betterment of the living standards of the poor.
“This money could have been invested in higher education tuition fees, particularly following the fact that thousands of students have been sacrificed due to shortages in NFSAS funding this year. Two billion rands could have funded at least 40 000 students at R50 000 fee per annum. Instead of prioritizing the education of a black child, the ANC government would rather spend money on luxurious VVIP Jets for number one,” the EFF says.
The Democratic Alliance says there is no reason why Zuma needs a new Business Jet. The existing Boeing Business Jet (“Inkwazi”) is in mint condition and has recently undergone an extended maintenance period at considerable cost to the taxpayer.
It is also not clear how the new aircraft will be operated, given the high vacancy rate of aircrew in the South African Air Force. The latest figures indicate that of the 830 posts for aircrew, 348 posts are vacant, which is equivalent to a vacancy rate for aircrew of 42%.
The acquisition appears to once again have circumvented normal defence acquisition policy, says the DA. “There is no evidence that there has been a competitive bidding process and key stakeholders, including the South African Air Force’s Squadron 21, do not seem to have been consulted.”