The Bulembu Airport near Bisho in the Eastern Cape, once decommissioned in the 1990s, has recently undergone a $1 million (R20 million) renovation courtesy of UAE President, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as reported by News24.
The makeover includes the extension of the runway to accommodate their planes, along with additional renovations to the airport building.This would enable the UAE leader and 500 of his royal entourage, staff and artists to have easy access to a lodge he owns where they will celebrate the end of Ramadaan, the month-long Muslim fast, on Saturday, April 22, 2023.
Bulembu Airport is a former military base that is occupied by the SA military’s airborne infantry unit and the SAPS Airwing, News24 writes.South Africans will remember a similar landing by the Gupta family in 2013, at the military’s Waterkloof Airforce Base in Tshwane and the unfolding of what became the investigation into state capture by the Gupta brothers – Ajay and Rajesh. The brothers – businessmen and associates of former president Jacob Zuma – were to face charges of money laundering and fraud. They were implicated in the state capture report, which revealed deep levels of corruption in Zuma’s government, and in various other state entities, including power utility Eskom. The UAE turned down the arrest warrant for the Guptas on February 13, 2023 but the South African government was only informed on April 6, 2023, allowing the brothers to leave the UAE, reportedly for Switzerland.Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane applied to the Department of Home Affairs to declare Bulembu Airport a port of entry for the UAE visitors to land directly from their country.The visit follows on from Mabuyane’s March 2023 visit to the UAE, to look into trade and investment opportunities, as well as potential cooperation in renewable and green energy, oil and gas, manufacturing, agro-processing, and industrialisation.