FORMER vice president Enock Kavindele says it’s not shocking that President Hakainde Hichilema decided to travel to New York aboard a commercial flight because he doesn’t believe in wasting money.
In an interview, Tuesday, Kavindele said the President did well to fly commercial because it was cheaper compared to using the gulf stream.
He recalled that on some few occasions he flew with President Hichilema, he was in economy class.
“It is a very good idea that the President should fly commercial because it is definitely cheaper than what that gulf stream can afford. The gulf stream would be far too expensive to take to New York. Besides, I have flown with President Hichilema on some flights and he was in economy. So he is not moved if I tell you flying first class or business class. The last time I flew with him, I was also in economy, the President and his wife were in economy class. President Hakainde Hichilema, he just really does not believe in wasting money. So for those of us who know him, it’s common for him to do that,” Kavindele said.
When asked if certain decisions by the President shocked him, Kavindele responded in the negative.
“No, no they don’t. It’s a 22-hour flight going from Lusaka to New York, so he may go business class because it is a long way and business first class for those long flights have various advantages because you are able to sleep and he arrives there ready for business,” he said.
Kavindele further said Zambia was in safe hands because President Hichilema would not allow wastage of funds.
“Oh yes (Zambia is in safe hands), one thing that bally won’t allow is wastage of funds. And in any case, most leaders like to fly business class when it’s the government paying. When they leave government service, they come back to join us in the economy when it is their money. So bally won’t allow wastage of money, take that from me,” he said.
Meanwhile, UNZA lecturer Bizeck Phiri said this was not the first time a President was using a commercial flight.
“I think this is not the first time we are seeing a President using a commercial flight. At the end of the day, there are a lot of questions that the UPND government has to ask about all of this. In my personal view, I think six months down the line UPND will be in a better position to have analyzed what the situation is. Remember there are a lot of questions about some of the purchases that were done under the PF government including the presidential jet itself and a lot of other things,” he said.
“So the government perhaps is still trying to understand how these things were acquired, there are a lot of stories behind those issues. So perhaps because the government is still trying to say ‘how do we move forward’, I think we need to give the UPND government some opportunity to work through these things and come up with a clear picture. Otherwise, there might be good reasons as to why the President decided to use commercial flight other than the presidential jet.”
Phiri noted that the UPND government was trying to be careful by avoiding making the same mistakes the PF made.
“They have been observing, they have been in opposition and they have been observing a number of things. So now for them to correct those things, you don’t do things in a rush because now they are in power. They might make the same mistake that the PF made. They are trying to be careful in the way in which they are moving forward. Already there are some criticisms that are coming but I think sometimes I look at some of the criticisms as coming too early,” said Phiri.