Recent news that the President of Zambia Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu and the PF government purchased five luxury planes at a staggering price tag of USD $400 million is extremely disturbing. It is also a colossal error in judgment and shows a high level of irresponsibility at the highest level of the Zambian government.
The non-denial denial statement from the Ministry of Defense permanent secretary, Mr. Stardy Mwale, does little to assure the country that the government of Zambia has the best intentions and interests for the people of Zambia. Neither does it show that they are able to bear the fiduciary responsibilities bestowed upon them by the Constitution of Zambia. The explanation given by Mr. Mwale that the government has “embarked on a programme to replace its aging fleet of transport and fighter aircrafts and other associated air defense equipment” is their failed attempt to explain the obvious. There is absolutely no urgent need for the government to purchase these planes and therefore the explanation given should not be believed as the real reason these luxury planes were acquired.
Barely a month ago, the government of the UK suspended, and may completely withdraw, its aid payment to Zambia amid allegations of rampant corruption and outright fraud. Other countries including Norway, Sweden and the USA have also either suspended or are considering suspending their pledged aid to Zambia due to corruption and misuse of donated funds.
At the time when the majority of Zambian people are experiencing unimaginable levels of poverty resulting from the failed economic policies of President Lungu and the PF party, the government should not be diverting these resources to seemingly non-urgent needs of the country.
A responsible government would put USD 400 million to good use such as to improve and upgrade dilapidated infrastructures in health, education, water and sanitation services (cholera prevention) or accelerate the construction and widening of the road networks to reduce carnage on the road that we continue to experience. This would thereby bring these infrastructures to the acceptable levels that the people of Zambia rightly deserve.
As an illustration, according to the Lusaka Times, the first ever district hospital in Masaiti was built at a cost of K22 million. With USD 400 million the government would be able to build almost 200 similar new hospitals.
At the moment only one out of every three children who start primary school makes it to the end of secondary school. Yet the PF government has seen it fit to reduce education provision in the budget from 20% of the national budget in 2015 to only 15 % of the national budget for 2019. A paltry K258.8 million is budgeted for school infrastructure in 2019. That is equivalent to only USD 21 million.
The Movement for Economic Emancipation (MEE), condemns in the strongest terms the decision by Mr. Lungu and the PF government to purchase luxury planes when our country has other urgent and pressing issues on which these funds could be used. USD 400 million would go a long way to alleviate the suffering of the Zambian people.
Furthermore, MEE would like to implore Mr. Lungu and the PF government to reconsider and rescind the decision to purchase these luxury planes and instead use these funds to help the suffering people of Zambian.
Victor Ngoma, MBA &
Roy Moobola, PhD
For and On Behalf of THE BOARD –
MOVEMENT FOR ECONOMIC EMANCIPATION PARTY (MEE)