Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Come Fly with me

Outcry over Ramaphosa’s Gupta flight

The country’s two biggest opposition parties have vowed to get to the bottom of whether proper procurement processes were followed when a jet belonging to the Gupta family was used to fly Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and a government delegation to Japan.

Eyewitness news reported on Wednesday that the department of defence hired the Bombardier Aerospace, registered to Westdawn Investments, and owned by the Gupta family and President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane.

The jet was reportedly hired through a government-managed contract with service provider ExecuJet.

“This then means that the family of President Zuma is benefiting directly from shoddy business dealings between the State and those who do not even blink an eye before financing the ever exorbitant lavish lifestyle of the President and his large family,” the EFF said in a statement.

The party said it would write to the ministers of defence and finance to check whether proper procurement processes were followed.

“We abhor the flourishing normalisation of corruption under President Zuma, wherein those close to the President and to the ANC get huge government contracts under questionable circumstances.”

The Democratic Alliance said it would submit a similar set of questions to the defence minister, and try to ascertain how much the flight cost the country’s taxpayers.

“The DoD (department of defence) claims they had no idea the plane belonged to the Guptas, saying that the leasing of planes – when the government planes are not available – is done through a central contract managed by the government through National Treasury,” the DA said.

“Given the fact that the Guptas are yet again involved with the Waterkloof Air Force Base, the questions surrounding this must be answered fully and urgently in the interests of transparency.”

In 2013, a private plane transporting a wedding party for the Gupta family, was allowed to land at the Waterkloof Air Force Base – with government denying that it was responsible, blaming an Indian diplomat for bypassing proper channels and misrepresenting the purpose of the flight.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Plane drama sees millions extra spent to hire jets to get Zuma home

Pretoria - Millions of rands extra had to be spent to get President Jacob Zuma back to South Africa after an official visit to Moscow.

By late on Tuesday, it was still not clear when he would land at Waterkloof air force base.

The original itinerary had Zuma landing at Waterkloof just after 07:00.

The drama began this weekend when Zuma attended the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation.

Technical problem

Beeld understands that Inkwazi, his official jet, developed a minor technical problem with the long-distance fuel system. It was not critical and would have simply meant a second refuelling stop, after Ankara, Turkey, in Entebbe, Uganda.

However, this was not deemed acceptable, and a plane was hired. This aircraft, from Longtail Aviation registered in the Bahamas, left Dubai in the Gulf to pick the president up.

Because of safety restrictions on crew hours, the plane could only be on the ground for a short period in Moscow.

But for unknown reasons, Zuma was apparently not at the airport in this short window, and the crew had to leave to rest in a hotel, in accordance with international regulations.

The arrangements were then taken out of the hands of the air force and went forward with the help of the SA ambassador in Moscow.

Third aircraft

A third aircraft was then arranged to bring the president back to South Africa. It is not known to whom this aircraft belonged.

The hired Bahamas plane was sent back to Dubai, but the air force is still liable for the R2 million that the full flight to South Africa and back to Dubai would have cost.

Meanwhile, the air force jet left Moscow and as planned, stopped to refuel in Ankara and Entebbe. It was expected to land at Waterkloof before Zuma, despite the extra stop.

The air force, Defence Department and the Presidency on Tuesday repeatedly referred Beeld’s questions to each other for comment.

The Presidency had announced on Tuesday morning that Zuma would not be back in time to launch a Home Affairs service delivery programme. “The president will return to the country from Russia later than planned,” the statement said.

- NEWS24

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Is this Zuma's Nkandla in the sky?

The luxury Boeing 727-200 that President Jacob Zuma charters when the official presidential jet, Inkwazi, is in for maintenance has gone on sale - allowing the public a look at the lavish interior Zuma enjoys.

The Boeing is owned and operated by local company Fortune Air and is being sold by Wentworth & Affiliates Inc.

The adverton Wentworth's website states that the 1982 aircraft has a "new 2008 designer interior" with a "gorgeous paint scheme in navy, white and gold", and a "private stateroom with VIP lavatory with shower, and adjoining office".

The aircraft has 5600 hours on the clock and seats 45.

Zuma has used the jet on many official visits over the past three months to the US, Russia and China.

Experts believe it will sell for about R33-million.

David Maynier, the DA shadow minister of defence, said: "If the standby Boeing 727-200 is sold, President Jacob Zuma may finally be forced to abandon his Mobuto-chic jet and fly SAA during the Boeing Business Jet's next maintenance period."

- Timeslive

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Lindiwe flies to India to say "We also own Mahatma Gandhi ji"

As her country marks 20 years of independence, Lindiwe Nonceba Sisulu – South Africa’s Minister of Human Settlements – makes her first-ever visit to India, to “express gratitude for India’s support in their freedom struggle”. Next year, South Africa will celebrate 100 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s historic journey from South Africa to India.

Excerpts from an interview:

There is a big ethnic Indian community in South Africa. What is their role in public life and in economy?

Indians, or Asians for that matter, are entrepreneurial by nature. They contribute a lot to our economy. Many of them have been there for generations, and we don’t consider them as Indians or Asians. They are Africans, just like us. In the official population register though, we have to categorise our citizens as “Asians” or “Whites” or “Coloured”, but that’s for representational purposes. In fact, we are moving towards eliminating that.

Two decades after independence, what is the state of women in South African society?

We have exceeded expectations in women’s representation within the country. In fact, now there is a law which ensures 50 per cent representation of women in every government community/institution. But having said that, patriarchy is still deep-seated in our society. For example, when it comes to land holdings, women may have access to land but their ownership is very very limited.

How does South Africa view its ties with India?

India is our closest ally in Asia. Together, we are part of BRICS as well as IBSA. We have learnt a lot from India in terms of housing solutions. Recently, we have established a National Development Plan, modelled on India’s Planning Commission. Besides, there always the shared legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. Early next year, we are going to celebrate 100 years of his moving from South Africa to India, and his philosophy of passive resistance to oppression, in a big way.

What are the celebrations going to be like?

No finer details have been worked out as yet. In fact, since Mahatma Gandhi ji belongs to India as well as South Africa, I invite suggestions from the Indian government and citizens alike on how best to celebrate his legacy in an inclusive way. But we are going to invite the heads of Indian government here, and the Indian National Congress for the celebrations. Celebrating Gandhi is our way of telling the world that we also own Mahatma Gandhi ji. Even though India owns some of him, we own the better part of him.

- Indianexpress

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Big Read: Jacob Zuma's Flying Circus

Poor Lynne Brown. Poor, sad Lynne Brown. What a terrible situation to find oneself in. She is, ostensibly, the minister of public enterprises.

She is not. A mere glance at what she has been going through at SAA makes it clear that she is a mere seat-warmer, an empty suit, an effigy on a chair.

The decisions are made elsewhere. The minister exists merely to take the blame when it will, inevitably, need to be apportioned. She is waiting to be blamed for something at SAA for which she is not responsible.

SAA is now nothing less than a comedy show. Just like the SABC. Just like the Post Office. Just like Eskom. Just like our parliament.

Events at SAA have been more than sad to watch. It is a microcosm of everything that is going wrong with our government and our politics. It is a hive of the politics of patronage, cronyism, sloth and failure. It is an example of men and women of integrity failing to stop and ask: Why am I doing all this for one man?

The SAA chairman, Dudu Myeni, who has been named by the Mail & Guardian newspaper as currently engaged in, or having engaged in, an intimate relationship with the president of our republic, has been running rings around Brown for months. Her word seems to be taken as that of an anointed leader rather than that of someone who has to comply, like the rest of us, with the rules of corporate governance.

First, she lied to SAA by claiming that she has a bachelor of arts degree, which she doesn't.

Over the past fortnight she has rushed to change her story and now claims that she had merely forgotten to say that she had not completed two major courses for the degree.

It is not a degree, darling, until you have completed your majors, passed the exams and received a degree from the institution.

In this regard she is at one with other leaders of our state-owned enterprises. At the SABC we have the chairman of the board - also linked several times to the president of the republic - taking parliament to court for asking her to produce her degree after she lied about graduating from Unisa as a bachelor of commerce.

The chief operating officer of the SABC claimed he had a matric when he did not.

None of the three is out of a job.

Lesson to our kids: Don't worry about study and application. Just lie, or sleep, your way to the top.

Two weeks ago Myeni suspended SAA CEO Monwabisi Kalawe. The minister, who has fired a whole board to accommodate Myeni, ordered her to lift the suspension.

Myeni told a shareholder meeting, and the minister in writing, that Kalawe's suspension had been lifted.

However, inquiries by Business Day revealed that the airline was claiming that Kalawe was "on leave". His access to his office was blocked. His was locked out of his e-mail.

SAA appointed an acting CEO, Nico Bezuidenhout, claiming that Kalawe was on "special leave". Kalawe's lawyer said this was a "blatant lie".

And so it is that, for the second time now, Myeni has defied Brown's orders as the shareholder representative and gone ahead and done what she deems fit.

What is her power?

Is it because she is the chairman of the Jacob Zuma Foundation? Is it because her son has been "integrated" into the Zuma family? Is it because she is known to drop Zuma's name in conversation?

What has happened to Lynne Brown? This is a stalwart of the struggle. This is a woman generally perceived to be a person of integrity and honesty.

How exactly does a person like this end up in a mess in which she becomes an apologist for the absolute nonsense that is taking place at SAA?

How does she manage to sleep at night when yet another Zuma untouchable runs amok at the national airline?

She is not the only one. Two weeks ago Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president, went to parliament to tell the National Assembly that the president of the republic would not be fulfilling his constitutional duty of appearing before the house at least four times a year.

Last Thursday we saw the good men and women of the ANC united in defending - to the point of fisticuffs - the president of South Africa's wanton theft of R246-million of taxpayers' money.

They howled and threatened violence in defence of Zuma.

Do ANC MPs actually believe that the security upgrading at Zuma's private homestead are justified at R246-million? Including the million-rand cattle kraal?

The answer doesn't matter. Last week, like sheep, they were happy to endorse this theft of taxpayers' money as they adopted a sham of a report authored by six of their own exonerating Zuma - again.

Why have the good people of the ANC become so fearful and useless?

What has happened to their backbone? Where is the ANC?

- Timeslive