Minister Sisulu trying to obscure true cost of President Zuma’s shadow planes
David Maynier, Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
15 March 2012
The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu, is trying to cover up the true extent, and cost, of President Jacob Zuma’s use of so-called shadow planes.
In an oral question on 29 February 2012 I asked the Minister to provide details of each occasion on which President Zuma had used shadow planes, as well as details of the associated costs in each case.
I have today, 15 days after the reply was due, finally received a response.
However, in the written reply the Minister fails to disclose any of the information I requested.
Instead, she simply provided the statement her department issued on 20 February regarding shadow planes as a proxy answer.
This is not good enough.
It leaves several important questions unanswered.
I will take this matter up with the Speaker of the House, Max Sisulu, in order to get answers to the following questions:
- What was the total cost of operating the President’s two shadow planes for his trip to the United States?
- Had the President used any shadow planes before?
- What were the costs on each occasion that the President used shadow planes?
- I believe Minister Sisulu has deliberately dodged answering these difficult questions because she fears that the answers would be embarrassing to her, to her Department, and to the President.
This is also not an isolated incident.
The Minister has a track record of attempting to hide information by avoiding parliamentary questions or by providing non-replies to questions.
The Minister is a serial offender when it comes to refusing to reply to parliamentary questions.
She has effectively refused to reply to a range of parliamentary questions concerning issues such as the following:
- President Jacob Zuma’s flights;
- her international and domestic flights;
- her international and domestic hotel stays;
- applications in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA);
- the status of complaints to the Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF);
- the purpose and cost of departmental advertising campaigns; and
- the amounts claimed by the Minister and her deputy for subsistence and travel in the 2010/2011 financial year.
The Minister’s disregard and contempt for parliamentary oversight is unacceptable.
The Speaker must hold her to account and she should be compelled to provide a full reply to my parliamentary question concerning President Jacob Zuma’s shadow planes.