ATM questions UAE President’s refurbishment of Bulembu Airport

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The African Transformation Movement (ATM) has expressed concern about the alleged R20 million upgrade of the Bulembu airport by the President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The ATM was reacting to the landing of the UAE entourage of 500 people at the airport near Qonce in the Eastern Cape.

The party says it has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa seeking clarity on a number of issues, including the type of goods offloaded at the airport and the number of assault weapons offloaded.

ATM spokesperson Zama Ntshona says the situation raises questions. Ntshona says, “As the ATM, we were taken aback when the media reports exposed that the President of the UAE not only landed at the Bulembu airport in Bhisho in the Eastern Cape but also upgraded the airport to the tune of R20 million.”

“This comes hot on the heels of the 2013 Waterkloof airport scandal where the Guptas landed at the national key point unlawfully. However, this time around the magnitude of the saga is 10 times larger,” says Ntshona.

The Public Service Commission in the Eastern Cape has confirmed that the costs of refurbishing the Bhisho airport runway were paid by the UAE.


The commission conducted a fact-finding inspection at the airport following the controversy surrounding the UAE leader’s visit. Commissioner Lulu Sizani says they have found nothing untoward about the landing of the entourage at the airport.

“We were told that they had to pay because we do not use the airport ourselves remember this airport is owned by the Department of Transport in the province. It’s not being used so when there is all of a sudden people wanting to use it so they had to assist and pay those costs in fixing the runway sure not 20 million, I think 20 million, that one is not correct.”