Kantanshi Independent member of parliament Anthony Mumba has implored government to halt its plans to re-establish the national airline because there are other pressing needs ordinary citizens require instead of spending US $30 million on the project.
And Mumba says President Edgar Lungu should be more aggressive in the fight against corruption.
Speaking when he featured on Let the People Talk on Radio Phoenix, Tuesday, Mumba argued that there was no need for government to rush in re-establishing the national carrier, which is scheduled to be unveiled early next year, in view of the mounting pressing needs of ordinary Zambians require.
He also pointed out that the US $30 million invested in the airline did not correlate with the US $42 million that was spent on the controversial 42 fire tenders.
“On the national airline, I think the government needs to do a bit more work because if you look today; South African Airways [and] the new Finance Minister is saying, ‘we are shutting down or we are bringing in investors, we are going to remain with a smaller stake, which will not continue draining the National Treasury.’ And I think also that the lessons that were learnt from the closure of our national airline in 1994, what is the story behind that? I am still quite uncomfortable. There is an investment of US $30 million and that’s very little money in my opinion because you have got fire tenders that you have invested all about US $42 million [and so] what’s the correlation there in terms of value for money and where have you put the money? You know, there are so many questions around it, but most importantly, again [is that] it will be a government company,” Mumba said.
“But going forward with the national airline, I think that we still need to do a bit more work, there is no need to rush, there is no need to hurry! Right now, the people that you are presenting the national airline to are already struggling to pay even for bus fares. So, why can’t we deal with what we need?”
He questioned Transport and Communications Minister Brian Mushimba’s argument that there would not be any political interference in the running of Zambia Airways.
“And the Minister did assure the House (Parliament) that there will be no political interference, but for me, you can’t tell me that there will be no political interference. I think that we should have taken a more sequential approach. Yes, you want Zambia to be a hub, but if it will be a hub, it means that there will be a lot of activities taking place. I would have expected to see a dual carriageway along Airport Road on course, if you are saying the airport will be ready in the first quarter. You are right, the Minister mentioned about the national airline, but he didn’t put meat to it,” Mumba added.
And the Kantanshi lawmaker also said President Edgar Lungu should be more aggressive in the fight against corruption.
“And this is why there has been calls that the President should be more aggressive on the corruption fight, there should be arrests…because ultimately, even in a home when my child misbehaves at school, it represents me; if he is insulting at school [then] it’s me. They will say, ‘it’s the father.’ But ultimately, the buck stops at the President. There is nobody else in this country who can respond for Zambia or respond to the Zambians. So, when stories start on the sale of ZAFFICO, ‘no they have sold Zesco,’ it’s him that they are entangling in all this; therefore, he must ensure that the people that sit around him are able to explain to the people,” said Mumba.
“And funny enough yesterday, (Monday) we were having a workshop on the Auditor General’s Report, Accountant Generals’ and the new financial laws that we are putting in place. The Accountant General said yesterday that all these people we have caught [stealing public funds], forgot one thing that, now, we use an integrated financial system. So, the paper trail will show you, whether you hide the voucher that you used [but] the paper trail will tell and that’s how all these people have been caught. So, these are the things I am saying we need to embrace new ideas. Yes, sometimes you are going to step on people’s toes and on people’s feet, sadly so, but it’s for the benefit of the country.”