South African President Zuma travels with two "shadow jets"

The issue of travel by Presidents in Africa is always a source of hot debate. Many will not fly commercial(even if their national carriers fly to the destinations of state visit. Is a first class cabin "too low" for an African President?) and prefer commandeering national airlines, many buy business jets for their travel while some use charter services, all three options on the sweat and toil and of taxpayers.

Recently, South African President  flew to the United States with two back-up aircraft used to "shadow" the President's Boeing Business Jet ("Inkwazi"). The two back-up aircraft were used as backup in case mechanical failures were experienced by the presidential jet. The South African authorities are also busy shopping for additional business jets for use by the President and his VP.

The Inkwazi: South African Presidential Jet. Are more business jets necessary for South African leaders?
The government justifies this expense as a consequence of South Africa's increasing international obligations and stature in the world. According to South African Airforce Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano,  the requirements(for international travel) had changed vastly since 1994 when the SAAF had only operated two aircraft for VIP transport to a limited number of international engagements. He pointed out that South Africa had considerably more international obligations as far afield as Australia and the United States. Being able to get leaders to high-profile engagements on time was a matter of national prestige.

The question now becomes, should President Zuma be making all these international trips? What's the value add to the South African economy and society? Could a foreign Minister not undertake some of these roles? It's question South Africans will have to ask their government, especially if domestic economic and social conditions are not moving in congruence with South Africa's new "international standing".

Perhaps, it's time to adopt fiscal responsibility and move away from the vestiges of the past...perhaps borrow a lesson  from David Cameron, leader of much more developed and richer country with even bigger international obligations, who traveled to South Africa on a scheduled commercial flight during his state visit.

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