News about plans to buy South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma a presidential jet costing around 4 billion Rand has been received with anger across the population in Africa’s second largest economy. Earlier in the morning, CityPress, one of the country’s private newspapers reported that a tender notice had already been published for the supply of a brand new jet that will have a bathroom, a private bedroom suite and a conference room to accommodate eight people while airborne. Other specifications for the aircraft include capacity to carry 30 passengers and have a range of 13 800km.
South Africans took their anger to social media condemning Zuma for misplaced priorities on one hand and outright criminality on the other. One twitter user wondered how the president could sanction such an expenditure while the country’s economy not performing so well with high inflation and a weakening Rand. These together with poor public services and rampant corruption, South Africans say, should be the priority of the president-not spoiling himself with such luxury.
The Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s main opposition party, stated via its twitter handle that “in strained financial time and with important priorities needing funding, Zuma cannot possibly need such luxury”.
There has been no explanation or response from the government following this revalation. However, in the recent past, word has come out pointing to the inadequacy of the existing private jet both in terms of capacity and efficiency.
President Zuma has been accused of and connected to numerous corruption scandals including the use of public funds to construct his homestead in Kwazulu Natal. Before he became president, he was involved in the procurement of arms, a process that was said to have involved mass corruption.