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R2bn presidential plane may be grounded

Defence Minister to make reveal on presidential aeroplane.

South African President Jacob Zuma.

JOHANNESBURG - Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is on Friday expected to disclose whether a R2 billion deal to buy a new jet for the president is on or off.

She will hold a briefing in Pretoria on Friday morning to clarify government's position on transportation of government's most senior officials such as the president and his deputy.

After a week of silence, Mapisa-Nqakula will have to answer questions about the controversial deal for a jet for President Jacob Zuma.

It was reported that the Defence Secretary was in the United States to finalise the purchase of a 300-seater Boeing 777 for Zuma.

Earlier this week former Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu issued a statement, washing her hands of the responsibility and vehemently stating that she had advised the purchase of the aeroplane be suspended.

The issue of transporting VVIPs has long haunted Defence ministers with scandals of gravy planes, faulty chartered aircraft and questions around the Air Force's capabilities.

Mapisa-Nqakula has been in the job for less than a month and is already hassled by her first major test of her new portfolio.