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Defence Minister to face Parliament over Gupta jet

Questions are being asked about why a private plane was chartered for the deputy president.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at Tokyo International Airport in Tokyo, Japan. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will now have to face Parliamentary questions about why a private jet belonging to the Gupta family was leased to transport a government delegation to Japan.

Questions are being asked about why a private plane was chartered for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and why the delegation did not make use of the South African Airways and what the chartered costs was.

On Wednesday, Eyewitness News exclusively revealed that a bombardier, owned by Gupta company Westdawn Investments, flew Ramaphosa and several ministers to Tokyo.

Opposition parties also want clarity on what proper procurement processes were followed and whether the company, owned by the Gupta family and President Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane, benefited improperly.

Both the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters want Mapisa-Nqakula to officially answer these questions in Parliament.

The party's Kobus Marais said they want to know why Ramaphosa had to use a privately chartered plane when he already has a state-allocated one.

Marais says the national carrier, South African Airways, flies to two destinations in Japan each week.

He's asking why Ramaphosa and his delegation couldn't have used this.

The DA also wants to know if leasing company, ExecuJet, acted in terms of its contract with the Department of Defence (DOD) and how much the chartered flights are going to cost.

The cost of the chartered flight remains unclear as the DOD said this will only be revealed in its annual report but it has estimated the jet costs approximately R5 million to lease.

The plane was chartered through a central contract managed by National Treasury.

At the same time, the DOD said it's still going through internal processes as part of its plans to purchase new jets to increase government's capacity to transport VIPs.

In April this year, a storm erupted around reports that the government was planning on buying three new jets to transport VIPs, a Boeing business jet and two Falcon 900 business jets at a cost of R2 billion.

Meanwhile, Deputy International Relations and Cooperation Minister Luwellyn Landers said he's unaware of the fact that Ramaphosa and a delegation of ministers and deputy ministers flew to Japan on an official visit on a jet owned by the Gupta family.

Landers was asked to comment while briefing journalists on international developments at Parliament.

He could offer no answers.

"Ramaphosa and the Gupta plane, I'm not aware of that; I have no information on that matter".