GOVERNMENT has denied that Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa hired a South African private jet for his Dubai visit to meet President Robert Mugabe, insisting that he flew a plane accessed by the Office of the President and Cabinet for their foreign trips.
While keeping a tight lid on the specific details of his travel arrangements, officials however said Mnangagwa had not flown the national carrier Air Zimbabwe when he visited Mugabe who is on his annual vacation.
This follows a story carried in the Zimbabwe Independent last week in which government sources claimed that Mnangagwa had hired the plane which was formerly owned by the Malawian government and sold to an arms company by former Malawian president Joyce Banda.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs permanent secretary Virginia Mabhiza however denied that Mnangagwa, who also doubles as Justice minister had hired the South African plane which was bought in 2013 by Bohnox Enterprises, a firm registered in the British Virgin Islands, which operates from South Africa, where it is loaned to VIPs by the jet company Fortune Air.
“In essence, we are saying your publication was not true. It’s not true in the sense that the plane involved is not a private plane and also even the details you went on to quote are not true. This is a government facility which is available to the office of the president and cabinet. That is what the VP (Mnangagwa) said,” Mabhiza said.
Mabhiza, however, said she could not provide more specific details about the actual plane used by Mnangagwa or where it was sourced from as well as other details of the trip as these were security issues.
“The other details of the flight are a security issue which cannot be disclosed. We want you to retract that false claim. The plane was not Air Zimbabwe but it was not a private plane. It is a facility provided by his office,” Mabhiza said.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba could not be reached for comment as he did not answer calls to his mobile phone.