Democratic Party leader Harry Kalaba says President Edgar Lungu spent US $138 million on a luxurious jet just so that he could stretch his legs and be comfortable whilst in transit.
And Kalaba says Luapula Province Minister Nixon Chilangwa is a man of vision because he was able to see, before most people, that President Lungu would not make a good Head of State.
Speaking when he featured on Radio Phoenix’ Let the People Talk, Tuesday, Kalaba said it was sad that Zambians bore a huge cost just so that President Lungu could stretch his legs while traveling.
“This tendency of when you go to Russia and you see that Putin has a jet, you also say you will buy, that’s lack of priorities. Sata understood. Mr Sata used to listen even when I saw something wrong and brought it to his attention. But these ones, because the money has gotten to their heads, they can’t listen to you…I was traveling with President Lungu and I am speaking before God, I was traveling with him to Angola and he was complaining that ‘you know Minister, I am very tall so I am unable to stretch here and the jet I ordered is taking long to arrive’. So I was shocked that there was a plane which was coming. That was the only reason he bought a jet, he wanted to be stretching. He wanted to be comfortable, that’s all,” Kalaba said.
“The presidential challenger is just as fast except of its configuration it is quite tight. I have been with the challenger into London. When Sata died, I am the one who went to pick Sata’s body in London so I know it. I have gone for assignments which President Lungu himself assigned me as foreign affairs minister using the challenger. The only reason was that the President was not stretching himself properly, he said he was not comfortable and he needed a plane that could make him comfortable and now they have bought one where he can sleep, they have bought one where he can stretch properly and Zambians had to cough $135 million to finance such kind of poor mentality.”
He said countries which were doing much better than Zambia were trying to sell their presidential jets in order to mitigate some challenges.
“In Mexico, they are trying to sell the presidential jet. Mexico is doing far much better than Zambia but they are selling it in order to ameliorate the problems that they are having in their country,” he said.
Asked if he was not in breath of the oath of secrecy by revealing a conversation he had with President Lungu, Kalaba asked; “What secrets? When the President says in the plane that I want to be stretching my legs I can’t stretch properly, is that a secret?”
And Kalaba congratulated Chilangwa for judging President Lungu correctly back in 2014.
“There are people who are in government right now who didn’t support him (President Lungu) but I think they were right and I want to congratulate honorable Nixon Chilangwa, he refused, he even warned me that same time ‘you can’t support President Lungu, you don’t know him because me I was working with him, this is not the type that can be minister’, honorable Nixon Chilangwa was right, I should have listened to him. So honorable Chilangwa now, he has joined because he realizes that now, he can’t overpower everybody because if you can’t beat them, join them. So honorable Chilangwa, congratulations, you are a real man, you can really see people for who they are and I hope this time you won’t make a mistake of insisting on [Lungu]. This time when you see that something is wrong, just come out and say it because he saw what we didn’t see, he was right. And there are several others, not only honorable Chilangwa, maybe honorable Chilangwa, if he had assumed that position of national secretary of PF, maybe we would have seen a bit of sanity in the PF as opposed to this chipante pante we are seeing but they didn’t allow the man, he grabbed it just for some few hours and they kicked him out,” he said.
“But anyway, what I am saying is that for us, we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk. When something is wrong, we say that it is wrong and we end there.”
And in response to another caller who wondered whether Kalaba was not betraying Chilangwa by revealing what he had, the former foreign affairs minister said there was nothing secret about what he had talked about.
“What have I revealed from Chilangwa? There is nothing that I have revealed. Chilangwa was appointed as Secretary General of PF, is that a secret? Honorable Chilangwa was against the election of President Edgar Lungu as President, is it a secret? Unless if I told you what happened after honorable Chilangwa, how he came in the party and the role I played, then you can say ‘Harry Kalaba now is revealing because I played a very pivotal role. Now, I haven’t said that. I have only said I am congratulating honorable Chilangwa because he saw these things before we all saw them because he didn’t agree that President Lungu should be president. Is there anything I have revealed there?” asked Kalaba.