Kabombo UPND member of parliament Ambrose Lufuma has advised government against re-launching the national airline, saying it is not a smart move given the state of the economy.
But Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo has insisted that re-launching the national airline will open bigger markets for Zambian products arguing that business is about taking risks.
Debating a report from the committee on transport, works and supply, Tuesday, Lufuma said PF had misplaced priorities.
“You are not going to establish this airline because you have no capacity, you want a legacy at the expense of the citizens, it is economically and financially unsound and it is a matter of misplaced priorities which is normal for PF to continue prioritizing things which are not suppose to be prioritized, that is your legacy, corruption, misappropriation of money, embezzlement among others,” said Lufuma.
“The airline should not be relaunched, yes I agree with them until such a time the economy improves right now there is no chance whatever of it improving under their reign. The current state of the economy is bad to say the least, you are failing to pay salaries in good time, you have issues with your parastatals, Zampost among others, so don’t escape and say you want legacy, what is legacy when the thing that you are going to establish is going to sink Zambia? You want an airline so that as PF you say we have established an airline and yet the country is suffering, you want to look nice outside inside finished!”
Mongu Central UPND member of parliament Mwilola Imakando also condemned government’s decision to re-launch the airline, saying the move was politically motivated.
“The investment into the airline was not motivated by economics but by other factors because if you are going to make the investments you will be interested in the volume of passengers, you will be interested in the business climate in the country, you will be interested in the users of the airline services. The chairman of IDC is the President because by virtue of him chairing IDC, he swings into the equation of political influence, political influence will cause problems as seen in parastatals like Zamtel,” argued Imakando.
But Prof Luo said business was about taking risks.
“Establishing an airline will enable us to not only move goods and services on ground but also enable us to lift them to a different country. It’s interesting to hear people who are supposed to advise and make sure that we think strategically on how to deal with our economic agenda can start saying that we shouldn’t, you haven’t even taken the risk, business is about risk taking. Opposition is not just about opposing any idea, everything is about ‘no we can’t do this’. Those who want to remain behind will remain behind, those of us who want to advance we will advance and even those who have not sat in an economic class but are self taught economists know that the path we have taken is the right path,” said Prof Luo.
“As the PF government we have been clear that we need to move away from the mining sector alone but to also include agriculture, tourism and also move on the path of industrialization, what this requires is a lot of strategic thinking and looking at the past and learning from the failures of the past and build on the growth part. That is the path on which the Patriotic [Front] government has decided to relaunch Zambia airways. In life, the countries that are doing well are countries that have invested in critical thinking, analysis and using the analysis have then moved forward to do their investment model that helps them to grow.”
Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya also supported the re-launch, saying it would create employment.
“We don’t expect to make profit in one day but the domino effect on other companies associated with an airline business, you will see that the adequate profit out ways the loss we expect to record at the inception. We will not be persuaded by political rhetoric over this topic and we will proceed with the airline. An airline will be a conduit of specialized skills hence providing employment so we are not going to be misled with the thinking that it will not make profit in the first five years because we know that it will have an effect on other aspects of the economy that will generate profit,” said Dr Chilufya.