7 March 2018

South Africa: SANDF Revises Presidential Flight Procedures After Ramaphosa's Moti Flight

Photo: @CyrilRamaphosa/Twitter
President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives in Botswana

Internal processes around the procurement of private aircraft for presidential flights have been revised following news reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa flew on an aircraft owned by the Moti company.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was grilled in the National Assembly on Wednesday on the status of South Africa's VVIP jets, four of which are currently grounded.

News24 reported on Tuesday that Ramaphosa had flown to Botswana last weekend for his first official visit on a private jet owned by controversial businessman Zunaid Moti.

The presidential jet, Inkwazi, was once again in for repairs. MPs heard on Wednesday that Inkwazi had not flown since August 2017 due to repairs.

"The air travel and movement of the political principals, president and deputy president is a mandatory responsibility for the SA Air Force, and is not handled by the Presidency or the principals.

"A dedicated squadron of the SA defence force is responsible for managing movement of the principals," she said answering IFP MP Russel Cebekhulu.

Points system

In the event that a private aircraft is used, an RT61 charter contract needs to be approved by Treasury.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) only provides the specifications for the flight in this event. The defence force's requirements include knowing the number of passengers, nature of destination and length of travel.

"Once the contract is awarded, the SA Air Force is given a list of companies and aircraft types. Each company on the list is awarded a number of points... and the company with the highest points must be approached first.

"Only if this company is unable to provide may the next company be approached."

Details of aircraft ownership were never disclosed on the RT61 contract to the South African Air Force.

"However, in view of this latest incident, internal processes and procedures have already been revised and updated to scrutinise all aircraft owners, operators, air crews and licences.

History of problems with presidential jet

"So when we are given a list by National Treasury [we can be more thorough] ... In the past, we have never asked the ownership of the aircraft."

"Why not?" shouted DA MPs.

"It was never part of the rules," she hit back.

Moti told News24 on Tuesday that the company had a number of planes which were hired out by Execujet and the National Airways Corporation (NAC) for commercial use.

The company said Execujet and the NAC, in turn, hire out the planes to the South African Air Force, which uses them to fly businessmen and ministers, as well as the heads of state of a number of countries.

It was not the first time that a South African president has been flown in a chartered aircraft because of problems with the presidential jet.

Source: News24

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