UPDATE: Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze.
Government has committed itself to pay more than E166 million to purchase a state jet from China.
This was said by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze yesterday.
This was during a workshop held by the minister and officials from the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation. Members of Parliament (MPs) who form part of the ministry’s portfolio committee also formed part of the meeting.
The meeting was aimed at informing MPs about the progress that has been made by the ministry in a number of projects.
This includes the issue of the acquisition of the state jet and issues of chapter E, which affects government workers serving in countries abroad.
It was also aimed at ensuring that the relationship between the ministry of foreign affairs and its portfolio committee was strengthened.
The meeting is set to continue today.
Gamedze, when talking about the state jet, said the government had agreed to pay for the jet in two equal instalments. He stated that government was now paying the last instalment, which would include the payment of the plane itself and maintenance. The jet, known as an Airbus A340, according to Gamedze, cost government US$12.65 million.
This, at the time of compiling this report, was equal to E166 600 500 (One US$ was equal to E13.17 yesterday evening, when this report was compiled).The plane is expected to accommodate about 60 to 90 people.
The minister told the MPs that the maintenance of the plane was at an advanced stage and it was expected to be in the country at the start of next year.
The plane is now being painted so that it could bear the colours of the flag of this country.
The minister said another important factor about the aircraft was the range or the distance in which it could fly.
“What is important here, honourable MPs is the range at which this jet can fly. You will remember that when you approved the purchase of the jet, the range was also an issue. This is a long range aircraft, which can fly for about 16 or 17 hours before it can be required to land,” Gamedze said.
This means the plane will not land at any point before reaching its destination.
This, according to Gamedze, will be safe for anyone travelling in it.
He said travelling in short range aircraft would make passengers to be exposed to dangerous situations.
It is different from theMcDonnell Douglas DC-9-87 (Siyanqaba), which can fly for about six hours before being required to land for filling up fuel.
E30 million to be saved by country
The ownership of the plane will save the country E30 million.
This was said by Ludzeludze MP Bambumuti Sithole yesterday when making his contribution on the acquisition of the state jet. Sithole is also a member of the portfolio committee of the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation.
He said he found this when he made his own research on the advantages the country could find itself in if it could own its own jet. Sithole praised government for striving to make the country have its own jets because hiring jets could save the country E30 million. Sithole could not state how much the country forked out when it took trips abroad. He also stated that the country could continue making use of Siyinqaba, while the country awaited the arrival of the state jet in China. Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze concurred with Sithole.
He stated that the costs would be lessened by the fact that the plane will accommodate a large number of people.