CAPE TOWN – Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has told Members of Parliament (MPs) there is no way the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) can avoid buying a VVIP aircraft. She was responding to DA MP Kobus Marais's question about how best to spend the cash-strapped defence force's budget.

Marais wanted to know whether the money that would be used to buy a new presidential jet, could be spent on arresting the decline in the defence force. “Is there not a more responsible and defensible alternative not to procure the new VVIP aircraft whether it’s leased or purchased and rather spend this money on milestone one...do you not agree that this will be in the best interest of the defence force? ” Mapisa-Nqakula told the National Assembly the SANDF has a mandate to fulfil. “The responsibility, whereas the security, of the principles lies with the police but the transportation and safety in that aircraft of the VVIPs is a mandate of the Department of Defence.”

Earlier this month, the minister confirmed plans to buy a new jet, but she would not be drawn on how much would be spent on acquiring the aircraft. Based on the specifications published by Armscor, the defence force's acquisitions agency, last year an unofficial estimate put the cost at R4 billion.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng) President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

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