THE ZAMBIA AIR FORCE says the Gulfstream G-650 aircraft cannot be sold neither can any other equipment that is on its inventory.

UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has been saying once voted into office, he will sell the presidential jet and invest the money in more serious economic sectors.

But responding to a press query, ZAF Director Public Relations and Foreign Liaison Officer, Colonel Kasoma stated that no military equipment could be sold until deemed obsolete.

“In response to your press query on whether the Gulf stream G-650 presidential jet can be sold, the Zambia Airforce wishes to clarify that the Gulfstream G-650 cannot be sold. All equipment listed and appearing on the Zambia Air Force inventory is classified as military equipment, such equipment is acquired either directly by the Zambia Air Force or by the government through the Ministry of Defence for the purposes of carrying out specific functions and missions to fulfil stated Air Force mandates. Established pursuant to Article 192 of the constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 as read with section 4 of the Defence act Chapter 106 of the laws of Zambia, the Zambia Air Force as an arm of the Defence Forces of Zambia is charged with the functions, inter alia to preserve and defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Zambia together with other Defence and Security agencies as well as co-operate with state organs and state institutions in times of public emergencies and national disasters,” Col Kasonde stated.

“In addition, the Zambia Air Force also conducts humanitarian and government support, operations including search and rescue, casualty evacuation as well as conveyance of government VVIPs which includes the Republican President. In this regard, all military equipment procured for purposes of achieving the aforementioned functions, missions and mandate or in support thereof cannot be sold during the course of operational use, lifespan or for business purposes. More specifically the Gulfstream G-650 aircraft which was acquired by the Zambia Air force through a contract by the Ministry of Defence and brought on charge on the Zambia Air Force inventory and is classified as military equipment for use by the Office of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Force currently held by His Excellency Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, cannot be sold. The Zambia Air force’s mandate to convey incumbent Presidents has been in force since independence in 1964 and all six presidents have been conveyed by the Air Force in this regard using different aircraft over the years.”

Colonel Kasoma emphasised that military equipment could only be sold when it was classified as obsolete through normal wear and tear or by irreparable damage sustained in accidents.

“In view of the foregoing, the Zambia Air Force wishes to categorically state that the Gulfstream G-650 aircraft cannot be sold neither can any other equipment that is on the Air Force Inventory as this has never been done before because it is against the laws that govern the Air Force as a defense entity. The unlawful sale of military equipment is contrary to Section 49 (1) (c) of the Defence Act Chapter 106 volume 8 of the Laws of Zambia and read with section 277 of the penal code Chapter 87 volume 7 of the laws of Zambia. The only exception to this rule is when such equipment is classified as obsolete through normal wear and tear or by irreparable damage sustained in accidents. This classification can only be done by a certified Zambia Air Force Board of Survey which has defined guidelines that cannot be disposed of by virtue of decree,” stated Colonel Kasoma.

“At present, the Gulf stream G-650 aircraft is equipped with modern cutting edge technology and is in pristine condition, it therefore does not fall within the bounds of the Board of Survey. The Gulf stream G- 650 aircraft is expected to be in service for not less than two more decades as was the case with the former President Jet, the Challenger 604 that was acquired in 1991. The Zambia Air Force is not in any way a commercial or quasi government agency. It is by design, a purely defense institution that is exclusively for purposes of securing the territorial integrity of the Republic of Zambia. The Zambia Air Force wishes to further advise and encourage Zambian citizens to acquaint themselves with the functions, operations and laws that govern this and all the other Defence and Security agencies as these are key state institutions.”