Cash-strapped Zambia proceeds with presidential jet or
Despite the country teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, Zambia is to go ahead with the purchase of a new presidential superjet from Russia, according to reports from Moscow.
This comes as holders of Zambia’s Eurobonds rejected on November 13 a request from the Zambian government to defer interest payments, setting the country on a path towards becoming Africa’s first COVID-era sovereign default, Reuters reported.
“While the government regrets that the bondholders did not approve the requests made by Zambia in good faith, we remain committed to finding a consensual and collaborative resolution to debt sustainability issues,” the Zambian government said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s ambassador in Moscow, Shadreck Luwita, said that the country was renegotiating the delivery of a SSJ 100/75 ordered from Russia two years ago. The aircraft would replace the current presidential jet, the 17-year-old Bombardier Business Aircraft Challenger 604 9J-ONE (msn 5486).
The new jet was due to have been delivered in 2019. However, due to lack of funding the delivery was rescheduled to 2020 – but then delayed again because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The diplomat told Sputnik News in Moscow: “The delivery period was rescheduled to this year. Unfortunately, because of the lockdown, the delivery is yet to take place. The delivery period will be worked out.”
Zambia had considered buying an additional four jets, but Luwita said that no new deliveries were being negotiated for the time being, as the country was still awaiting the arrival of the first one.