All Peoples Congress leader Nason Msoni has described the procurement of a luxury presidential jet as reckless and criminal conduct.

On Sunday, Ministry of Defence Permanent Secretary Stardy Mwale said the Zambia Air Force had a constitutional mandate to protect President Edgar Lungu in the sky, and as such, the defence wing would procure the necessary defence mechanism to achieve this objective.

Mwale rubbished the Africa Confidential exposé which revealed that the Zambian government had gotten a US$400 million loan to procure an anti-missile VIP jet for the Head of State, but admitted that the defence modernisation committee had been investing in latest military aircrafts to replace the old fleet.

“The Constitution of the Republic of Zambia mandates the Zambia Airforce (ZAF) to provide air support and maintenance of the highest standards of aviation security to the President and all government officials duly authorised to use the air assets of the State. In this regard, to carry out this onerous constitutional mandate, the Zambia Airforce, in 2012, embarked on a programme to replace its ageing fleet of transport and fighter aircraft and other associated air defence equipment. This procurement of aircraft and associated air assets is a lengthy process and still on going due to the time it takes to select appropriate aircraft and equipment and the laborious legal procedures in line with the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) Act,” stated Mwale.

“The upgrading of our air defence system is in line with the mandate given to the Defence Modernisation Committee, which was appointed by His Excellency Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata. This Committee has regularly briefed His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia on the progress being made in the procurement process. Whenever budgetary allocations have been available, and procurement guidelines completed, we have, as an on-going process, purchased the required air and ground defence assets to respond to the defence and security needs of the country.”

But in a statement, Monday, Msoni said it was better to be quiet sometimes.

“It is totally nonsensical and childish to refute something that is already bought and is being delivered to your backyard. Surely even if your brains have gone on vocational leave is buying (3) fighter jets and (2) Presidential Jets a priority? It is even more honourable perhaps to just keep quiet than just blubbing a lot of nonsense that is made to merely mislead the public. Mr Stardy Mwale is the Permanent secretary and controlling officer of the Ministry of Defence and he knows very well that ZAF can’t purchase the military equipment without his express permission and approval. If it was a loan then the next question should be was the correct procedure followed when diverting these funds towards the purchase of the (5) Jets?” Msoni asked.

“ZAF does not exist in a vacuum where it is not affected by the prevailing fiscal constraints that have negatively affected the national budget.We think pushing reckless purchases and liabilities on a gaged Military institution is wicked most unfortunate and is absolutely criminal in its entirety. We don’t think it is fair and reasonable to force a heavy load of liability down the throat of the newly appointed ZAF Airforce commander who can’t speak for himself in the circumstances as the person to bear the highest responsibility on the reckless buying of (5) Jets by a power-mad tyrant.”

He stated that it was embarrassing to drag ZAF into the scandal.

“It is indeed out of shame to try and save face from embarrassment as the main reason for dragging ZAF into the fiasco. This Country is not at war to hastily buy military Jets and bypass the purchase of medicines and other urgently needed hospital paraphernalia.vAgain it is Mr Lungu’s judgment and moral campus we are questioning in this scandal. This repugnant purchase of Presidential jets speaks to moral bankruptcy and redundancy of thought on the part of Mr Lungu.
This is a tragic betrayal of a nation by a person entrusted with the Presidency. What a way to pay back to citizens! what an ingrate,” stated Msoni.