Zambia furious at presidential jet purchase claims

Monday October 15 2018

President Edgar Lungu. FILE | NATION MEDIA

President Edgar Lungu. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MICHAEL CHAWE
By MICHAEL CHAWE
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The Zambia government reacted angrily to reports that it has bought an expensive jet for President Edgar Lungu.

Local media quoted Russia’s Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (GSS) Vice-President Yevgeny Andrachnikov saying the aircraft costs between $45 million and $49 million.

Mr Andrachnikov was speaking at the Russian Business Aviation Exhibition forum.

But Zambian Defence Permanent Secretary Stardy Mwale told reporters: "Let me therefore stress that there is no $400 million being spent on any single aircraft or military equipment as falsely and maliciously alleged by the Africa Confidential and other media platforms.”

However, Mr Mwale admitted that "only a VVIP aircraft" was due to be delivered.

Luxury specification

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The aircraft manufacturing company was set to deliver five planes to Zambia, with a business jet meant for President Lungu.

The UK-based Africa Confidential reported that only the Sukhoi SSJ regional jet airliner with a luxury specification suitable for a head of state would be supplied.

Transport minister Brian Mushimba denied knowledge of such transactions.

The Africa Confidential further revealed that Israel and Zambia were almost ready to sign a new $400 million package for high-tech aviation equipment to be funded with a loan from Israel’s Hapoalim Bank.

Public disaffection

All People’s Congress-APC party leader Nason Msoni criticised the priority of the Lusaka government, amidst numerous needs.

“Is it really necessary for the President to be buying a jet now?” he asked.

“We have so many needs in this country than the need for the luxury plans.”

Local radio breakfast shows have been awash with topic, reflecting public disaffection.

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