CTPD demands transparency in purchase of National Airline planes

CTPD has expressed concern over government’s failure to clearly state how many planes are required for the reintroduction of the National Airline, what they will be used for and if the venture is a priority.

In a statement, CTPD researcher Bright Chizonde observed that it had become apparent that citizens were being given fragmented and inconsistent information concerning the source and modalities of the acquisition of the planes to be used by the airline.

Chizonde further urged government to give a detailed and accurate update to the public regarding the purchase of planes, but still wondered if Zambia really needed to take the route of re-establishing a national airline, considering the economic challenges that the country was facing.

“CTPD would like to urge government to step up efforts in providing timely and consistent information to the public with regards matters of national interest, this will help cure the growing culture of citizen dependency on foreign media platforms for them to know government’s dealings. One such dealing is with regards to governments intentions to relaunch a national airline. It is public knowledge that governments intention to bring back Zambia airways has attracted considerable public debate and it has been met with mixed reactions from various stakeholders with some supporting the plans due to the potential economic benefits and employment creation and others condemning the decision owing to the fact that Zambia is currently in hard economic times, and thus does not have the luxury of spending on such a risky venture,” Chizonde stated.

“It has become apparent that citizens are being given fragmented and inconsistent information concerning the source and modalities of the acquisition of the planes to be used by the airline. In July, last year, it was published by a number of tabloids that government signed a contract for the purchase of five Russian made Super jets to be delivered in the country by early 2018. Four of the five aircrafts were said to be Sukhoi Superjets 100 passenger planes while one was a VIP version for the President. In early 2018, the Zambian public did not witness the delivery of these planes but instead, new information emerged on the acquisition of planes. Ethiopian Airways announced plans to buy new Jets as it readied itself for Zambia Airways relaunch. This hinted of a leasing arrangement on Planes from Ethiopia to be used by Zambia Airways. In September 2018, the Minister of Transport and communication, Mr. Brian Mushimba, announced that three planes to be used by Zambia airways are expected in the country this month (October).”

Chizonde insisted that it was every Zambian’s expectation that clarification would be provided on the purchase of planes for the national airline, saying citizens should not be left to speculate over such important issues.

“Although the source of these three planes was not expressly given, it is widely assumed these are from Ethiopia Airlines. While the nation still awaits the arrival of the three planes, new revelations have come to public domain. There is now talk of Zambia Airways planes coming from Israel and Saudi-Arabia, and the delivery of only the Russian made Business Jet for the President. The Ministry of Defence recently refuted ‘rumours’ about the Russian SuperJet Business plane costing a maximum of US$45 million after media publications sourced from the vice- president of Russia’s Sukhio Civil Aircraft-Yevgeny Andrachnikov, went viral on social media,” stated Chizonde.

“CTPD remains deeply concerned and urges government to give a detailed and accurate update to the public regarding the purchase or acquisition of planes. There is need to clearly state how many planes are to be acquired, what will they be used for? Even more concerning, are they a priority?Does Zambia really need to take this route of establishing a national airline looking the economic challenges the country is facing? It is our expectation that clarification will be provided as Zambians should not be left to speculate concerning such an important issues.”

Meanwhile, Chizonde disclosed that CTPD was currently conducting a study aimed at evaluating the benefits and risks of running a national airline. The study is being done by drawing lessons from African Countries like Ethiopia, South Africa and Malawi. And this report is scheduled for launch before October, 2018, month end.

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