Editorial: Zuma can fly on national carrier

DEAR President Zuma. We will grant you the benefit of the doubt that you personally ordered a R4-billion presidential jet, because your term as number one ends in 2019.

Only the mood of the nation will tell whether the next one to fully enjoy the luxury of an in-flight full bedroom suite, bathroom and conference room for eight will be your former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, your deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, Julius Malema or Mmusi Maimane.

Whoever takes over the shaky reins of this nation after you is probably going to face the wrath of the angry and hungry masses.

You see, you should not believe Armscor or your defence department – after all those hawks got you and us into trouble over that other unmentionable arms deal.

What the Department of Defence won’t remind you is that since the financial crisis of the late 2000s, your government has increased its borrowing from R16.1-billion in Thabo Mbeki’s days over the five-year period 2004-05 to 2008-09, to R694.3-billion for the five-year period 2009-10 to 2013-14.

This simply means we cannot afford a R4-billion jet for one man.

Secondly, remember when you agreed to freeze the increase in students’ fees, you still have a R2.6-billion shortfall to make up.

Still on the topic of students, if you are going to put our money where your mouth is, then we should be spending R51-billion on NSFAS funding for university and college students whose parents cannot afford to pay for fees.

We know she is an irritant to you and your party apparatchiks, but we the public love the fact that you appointed Thuli Madonsela as public protector to keep a check on the crooks who have been pilfering our taxes.

She has said her office is unable to fully discharge its constitutional mandate due to a 30% shortfall in its budget. All she needs is R100-million more a year to be able to get to the increasing number of cases reported to her.

These are just a few worthy alternatives to invest R4-billion in as opposed to a jet for you and your successors.

Why not take a leaf out of one of your Brics friend’s books, the man who heads up the second largest economy in the world. China’s President Xi Jinping flies on the national carrier, Air China.

The Chinese have chosen this path to avoid wasting money.

Mr President, the choice is yours. Either you fly the path of frugality and growth like the president of China does, or that of elite excess and of deepening debt like many other leaders of failed states do.

-Editorial comment

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