Premier’s helicopter flips at odds with cost-cuting budget

Francois Rodgers, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance:

KWAZULU-Natal Premier, Senzo Mchunu, spent just shy of R80 000 on three helicopter trips to and from events around the province over a six month period last year.

According to a written parliamentary reply to questions posed by the DA, the details for each trip are;

–          On 19 April 2014 the Premier travelled from Durban to Sahlumbe for a funeral and then on to KwaHlabisa.  The six hour trip cost R31 600.

–          On 28 August 2014, the Premier travelled from Mooi River to Ulundi to meet with King Goodwill Zwelithini before flying back again.  The five hour trip cost the province R27 650

–         On 31 October 2014, the Premier flew from Umlazi to uMzinkhulu to attend the Taking the Legislature to the People programme – a four hour trip at a cost of R19 750.

When questioned by the DA as to why the Premier’s vehicle fleet could not have transported him on each occasion, the reply was simply that he could neither postpone nor deploy anyone else.

The question further asked why the Premier was unable to use his extensive vehicle fleet, the response was that it was “practically and humanly” impossible for him to attend these commitments using the vehicle fleet and that a helicopter was “the only viable and possible solution”.

The DA does not buy this.

In particular, dates for the Legislature to the People programme are set weeks if not months in advance.  It is difficult to understand why the Premier cannot allocate time in his diary like everyone else – or is this just another case of poor planning in the Premier’s office leading to unnecessary costs?

This expenditure certainly flies in the face of the proposed cost cutting measures facing KZN, as highlighted in Finance MEC, Belinda Scott’s recent 2015/16 budget speech.

The DA reiterates its post-budget commitment to monitoring the way in which taxpayers’ money is spent in this Legislature.

The ground rules have clearly been set.  Only time will tell whether all departments, including the Premier, will comply with the cost cutting measures.