Nawakwi questions govt’s decision to buy useless, expensive helicopters from Russia

FDD president Edith Nawakwi has expressed concern at government’s up side down priorities.

And Ms. Nawakwi has challenged President Edgar Lungu to explain why Deputy Minister in the Office the Vice President Steven Kampyogo was given the mandate to negotiate for the purchase of Zambia police MI17 helicopters from Russia.

Speaking when she donated assorted food stuffs to Mulela school for Children with disabilities in Kanyama on Saturday the emotionally charged Ms. Nawakwi wondered why government was borrowing huge sums to spend on non priority areas when a lot of people in the country were suffering.

She observed that government was busy spending colossal sums of the money it is borrowing on what she termed useless things such as surveillance equipments when the money could be spent on improving the country’s social sector.

“This government seems not to know what our priorities as a country are. They went to borrow money so that they can be snooping on citizens. I’m aware that part of the 192 million dollars loan will be used to put up surveillance equipment so that government can be snooping on its citizens.

The social sector has been neglected and its only individuals like Ms. Mulela who are now taking care of people with special needs such as these children. I get very angry when I come to a place like this and all the children need is probably a classroom, good toilets, and a kitchen.

Its matter of grave concern that the President his Excellence Edgar Lungu and his government would rather spend money on useless things such as surveillance equipment instead of areas of need like taking care of people with disabilities like these children here,” said Ms. Nawakwi.

The opposition leader further wondered how the purchase of “useless” helicopters for the Zambia Police will serve the people of Zambia.

“This government has decided to bring in useless helicopters in the design of MI 17 and are very, very expensive aircrafts [and] we don’t have pilots for those because those are specialised heavy-duty helicopters.

In developed countries those are the ones which are used to lift concrete on sky scrapers where you can’t have these very, very tall cranes. You need pilots who have a minimum of 2 000 to 3 000 [flying] hours and we don’t have those pilots at ZAF who are technically qualified to fly those MI 17s.

Those aircrafts are used in places [where] you need to carry 32 armed military personnel who can be dropped here and there or in fact those are aircrafts for countries which have money because to run a MI 17 you need $3 000 per hour and what has baffled me is that this government has gone to Russia and contracted those useless helicopters, five of them for Zambia Police and one wonders where Zambia Police will park them [and] where they will get the pilots since ZAF doesn’t even have pilots and the technicians who are qualified enough to run them.

“They are bringing them here purportedly for the police under the Russian- Zambian Government debt swap. When I was Minister of Finance we would use the debt swap to provide for social services for children like the ones we have just met. But because these people are bent on pocketing resources, they can go to Russia and collect those aircrafts,” she said.

And the opposition leader said president Edgar Lungu should explain why deputy minister in the office of the vice president Steven Kampyongo was the one behind the helicopter deal.

“I want the President to explain how minister Kampyongo took that heavy responsibility to go and bring useless aircrafts into Zambia. What we would need at this point in time for Zambia Police is helicopters which can be used as air ambulances or in fact, helicopters which we can use maybe in the flying squad. The only motivating factor for this government to import such aircrafts MI 17s is nothing but corruption.”

She further said the impending month end meeting between President Lungu and three Turkish investors at State House further exposes the PF government’s corruption.

“Obviously it’s corruption because they didn’t even go to Russia to negotiate because there is an embargo on Russia [instead] thy met in Turkey. No wonder we have seen our former president (Rupiah Banda) taking people from Turkey to State House. Now we know the scheme. Apparently they will turn around and say these are for relief aircrafts but is Zamia Police involved in relief?” Nawakwi wondered.

Mulela School for children with disabilities has about 52 children with different disabilities and operates at a care park. Susan Mulela and three other physically challenged friends takes care of the children from 8 in the morning to 16 in the afternoon.

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