President Emmerson Mnangagwa will continue hiring expensive private planes when he is travelling until the government gets him a dedicated presidential jet or until the country has a functioning national airline. This is the message coming from Mnangagwa's spokesperson George Charamba who was responding to questions on why Mnangagwa was using expensive private jets.
Mnangagwa recently hired a US$12 500/hour private jet from Dubai in order to travel to Bulawayo. He has also received criticism for hiring a one of a type US$74 000 per hour Swiss Luxury jet.
Charamba went on to justify why senior government officials get treatment outside the country when they are sick saying that it is part of their conditions of service.
Below is an excerpt of Charamba's interview with Xolisani Ncube (XN) of The Standard,
XN: So for how long are we going to be hiring private jets for the president, Cde Charamba?
GC: Until such a time we have a presidential jet or a functioning national airline with a fleet of aircraft. At the moment, our economy cannot sustain the purchase of a presidential jet. Imagine what would happen if the president decides to get a presidential jet. Definitely it would cause an uproar. So until such a time when our economy can sustain the purchase of a presidential jet or we have a national airline with many aircraft, we shall always resort to hiring of private jets. The idea to buy a presidential jet is part of our plans in the long to medium-term, but for now, our economy cannot allow us to do that.
XN: You have explained well on the presidential jet and why the state hires, how about the VPs (vice-presidents), why not use scheduled flights? We have seen them being flown using hired private planes, at whose cost?
GC: This is part of conditions of service for the top three. Even ministers, if their conditions of service stipulate that they should be airlifted whenever they need medical attention at the expense of the state, it must be done. Even top civil servants, if their benefits include airlifting, there is nothing that we can do to change that, it is in their contracts.