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Zuma's office urges transparency on new R4bn jet

The president’s office says the public 'must be briefed' on this matter as much as possible.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma's office has reacted to reports that the SA Defence Force intends to buy him a new jet, saying the public must be briefed on this matter as much as possible.

Weekend reports revealed that Armscor has initiated an acquisition process by requesting information about possible jets for the president.

Armscor has set a deadline for 20 November for information on possible suppliers before the acquisition's board meets in December.

It's estimated that a new aircraft could cost as much as R4 billion.

Zuma's office says in a statement that the presidency has asked the Defence Ministry to provide it with information pertaining to media reports about a new presidential jet.

His office has urged transparency on this issue, saying it's also asked the department to brief the public as much as possible on the acquisition process, but without compromising security.

The president has however stated that aircraft purchased for the use of the president and his deputy remain the property of the State.

Defence union Sandu has criticised the proposed purchase, saying money would be better spent on salaries and equipment for troops.

Meanwhile, the DA's shadow defence minister Kobus Morais says Treasury is already struggling to balance its balance sheet.

"We know that there's R2.6 billion that will go towards higher education as a result of the Fees Must Fall Campaign. That's absolutely unacceptable that in this time when people are losing their jobs, unemployment is increasing, that they're even considering that."

The City Press newspaper is reporting that specifications for the aircraft include a private bedroom suite, a bathroom and a conference room for eight people on board.

The president's current jet, Inkwazi, is unable to carry more than 15 people and with the new purchase at least 30 passengers will be able to travel with the president.