Transport and Communications Minister Mutotwe Kafwaya says if he won’t be fired this year, he will ensure that Zambia Airways starts operating.

In an interview, Kafwaya said relaunching the airline was a tedious process and he could not give a clear timeframe.

“This year [it’ll be operational], if I remain Transport minister, if I am not dropped, if I am not transferred, my aim is to work very hard to support the President and the Zambian people. This year, we must have output, we are not going to concentrate on talking. Last year, we met drivers on two occasions and resolutions must be achieved. I think as a nation, we want to fly. Only very few people who hate progress will tell you that they don’t want to see Zambia Airways fly, but Zambia Airways is a company that needs to be established and establishing the airline, there are things that need to be fulfilled. So it is those things that we need to make sure that we pursue until they are fulfilled. We want to make sure that we are working in line with the standards by IATA and all the stakeholders that are concerned with aviation safety,” Kafwaya said.

“The time frame is a difficult call because I am not [the] Civil Aviation Authority and I am not Parliament, because to ratify the Cape Town convention, it is not entirely up to me. It is up to the government. I have to take that to Cabinet and then later take to Parliament and I have no control over any of those processes. I am not the one sitting with rules of the Civil Aviation Authority in order to determine that the license is going to be granted in a month or two months. My role is to make sure that all those things are done and I will be pushing because I have the interest of the nation at heart.”

And Kafwaya has wondered why UPND party chairperson Mutale Nalumango announced that the party had chosen Hakainde Hichilema to stand for presidency in 2021 before going for a convention.

“I listened to Mutale Nalumango on Pan African Radio where she was saying she is the acting vice-president in UPND. She was asked if there was a running mate, her response was that the running mate is not in their party constitution but in the national constitution and that it is a preserve of Hakainde Hichilema to choose and if he chooses her, she is game. She said they were going to the convention where a vice-president is going to be elected. My question is that; how does she know that HH will be elected in that convention? Is it that HH is a forgone conclusion that he is going to emerge winner before the convention?” Kafwaya asked.

But when reminded that the ruling party’s central committee had also announced President Lungu as sole candidate, Kafwaya said backing President Lungu did not mean he would win at the convention.

“For me, what I know is that when we go for a convention, I will be backing President Edgar Lungu. Backing President Lungu does not mean he will win, it means that for me, I have endorsed President Lungu. For Nalumango, there was nothing like a doubt, she said HH himself will chose the vice-president. But how does she know because that choice will come after the convention,” said Kafwaya.