Presidency made a call - 'Inkwazi was unsafe for Zuma to use'

The Presidency says assurances needed to be given that Zuma’s private jet was 100% safe.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The Presidency has strongly denied President Jacob Zuma and his staff didn't want to use his presidential jet, Inkwazi, due to fears of it being sabotaged.

The City Press at the weekend reported that an aircraft had to be rented in a hurry to fly the president to Durban last week.

Earlier this month, the jet arrived in Qatar with fuel pouring from one wing.

The Presidency says it made the call that the plane was unsafe for Zuma to use.

It says assurances needed to be given that Inkwazi was 100 percent safe, and neither Zuma nor his staff had a say.

Presidency Spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga says the Presidency made the request to the defence minister for an alternative plane.

"We requested that they provide us with a reliable aircraft."

He says the Defence Department has assured the Presidency that it's looking at a long-term solution.

"So that the president and the deputy president do not have to be inconvenienced."

Ngqulunga says the Presidency is concerned about ongoing false reports surrounding the president's jet.

'A SMOKESCREEN'

Meanwhile, the South African National Defence Union (Sandu) says reports that Zuma refused to fly in his jet due to fears of sabotage of the aircraft, are a smokescreen.

The union says this is only to make the rest of the country believe there is a need to buy a new plane, despite not having the budget for it.

Sandu's Pikkie Greeff says they find it astounding that Zuma would accuse his own staff of sabotaging his plane and believes there is nothing wrong with the Inkwazi jet.

Ngqulunga has, meanwhile, denied the reports.

It's being reported that although the jet apparently arrived fully repaired and ready to take Zuma to Durban, he refused to board until he received a 100 percent assurance that everything was in order.

The South African Air Force has requested a new plane for the president.