Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa did not know that the aeroplane he flew on to Japan last month belonged to the Gupta family.
Responding to questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Wednesday, the deputy president told Economic Freedom Fighters MP Emmanuel Mtileni that government had nothing to hide about the use of the Gupta jet.
This was after Mtileni sneaked in the question while the deputy president was talking about the prevalence of fake qualifications.
Last month, Ramaphosa flew to Japan on the Bombardier Aerospace on an official visit, which the department of defence hired through a state-managed contract with service provider ExecuJet.
Ramaphosa told MPs in the NCOP that when he travels, his office handles the details, looking at the route and cost.
“The Defence Force looked for a plane among the fleet of planes they have and found that there wasn’t one that could take us to the destination in a way that was appropriate.
“They then chartered a flight. They did not know who that flight belonged to, nor did I. I did not know who that plane belonged to. The information about the ownership of the plane only came out much later.”
He said they always sought to find the most cost-effective way of getting to destinations. “And we will continue to do, to make sure that taxpayers’ money is saved, and in this case it so happened that because of the commitments that we had and the number of other engagements, the best way to travel was to have a plane chartered. That is the reality, believe it or not.”
The deputy president faced questions on the government’s efforts to improve efficiency in state-owned enterprises, the empowerment of women, the rise in fake qualifications and the national minimum wage.
Ramaphosa told MPs that the electricity challenge the country faces would pass and soon be forgotten, the ANC would choose the next president, female or otherwise, and all those with fake qualifications should remove them immediately from their CVs.
On state-owned enterprises, Ramaphosa said the work they were doing had nothing to do with the local elections and that the government was doing its job.
He said entities such as Eskom and the South African Post Office had their challenges but that they were working on them.
“Eskom is another utility that has faced challenges. But even Eskom is being turned around. And we all know the challenges that Eskom faces and we’ve never hidden them. In another 18 months to two years, you will forget the challenges that we had with relation to power and energy and Eskom ever happened. Be patient, this problem is going to be resolved.”
On the question of gender parity, Ramaphosa was put on the spot when an MP asked if he would support a female president. He said only that the ANC would choose.
“I am fortunate enough to belong to this glorious organisation called the ANC and it has always expressed its own ambition as to who should lead the ANC. And it has always acted on it. It has never failed to choose a person that it feels will take the agenda of the ANC forward. And when it chooses who should lead the ANC, it has a wide choice. It has 1.5-million members to choose from.”
On the prevalence of fake qualifications at private and public entities, Ramaphosa urged South Africans to stop padding their CVs with fake qualifications.
“We call on members of the public to ensure they do not jeopardise their employment prospects by misrepresenting their credentials. It’s either you have it or you don’t have it. Go and study and get your qualification. Let us not be fakes, let us not be fraudulent when it comes to our qualifications. If you are not educated, don’t claim it.”
He urged everyone with fake qualifications in their CVs to remove them, roll up their sleeves and go to school, as it was clear that by putting the “fake qualifications on their CVs, they have a deep desire to have them”.