Mnangagwa approves acquisition of presidential jet, source says

HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has approved the acquisition of a presidential jet, ZimLive can reveal.

The aircraft is a long-range Dassault Falcon, military sources said.

“It has already been bought, and pilots have left the country to undergo training. It should be in service very soon,” a source said.

Officials at treasury reportedly agreed to the acquisition after their analysis showed that in the long-term, it was cheaper than chartering planes.

Our source did not know how much was paid for the aircraft, only that it was one of the long-range Falcon jets.

The description would suggest either a US$62.5 million Dassault Falcon 8X which can fly 6,450 nautical miles non-stop or the US$53.8 million Dassault Falcon 7X with a range of 5,950 nautical miles.

The government is also buying four helicopters for “VIP transport”, ZimLive was told.

Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba said he had no knowledge of the transactions.

“Not to my knowledge. I’m not yet advised,” Charamba responded tersely.

In April last year, the Air Force of Zimbabwe acquired an upgraded Eurocopter AS-532UL Cougar for Mnangagwa’s use for travel to remote districts ahead of next year’s gruelling election campaign.

The aircraft acquisitions in the midst of a raging economic crisis and grinding poverty will raise fresh questions about the government’s priorities.

Mnangagwa’s predecessor Robert Mugabe chartered Air Zimbabwe planes for his international travel. Since seizing power in a 2017 military coup, Mnangagwa’s foreign trips have almost exclusively been carried out on expensive planes chartered from Dubai, Switzerland and Azerbaijan.

His week-long trips to the United Nations with an entourage of over 40 people has been reported to cost in excess of US$2 million, more than half of it spent on charter aircraft.

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