The Norwegian government has officially cut aid to the Zambian government. It will only be supporting NGOs.
Story by Per Anders Johansen- Aftenposten’s Moscow Correspondent ( Aftenposten is one of most respected broadsheets in Norway)
Norway has given this country 15 billion kroner in aid. The President of this country has now bought himself a luxury jet.
Zambia is one of the receivers of the largest portion of Norway’s aid, and now the country’s president has bought himself a private luxury jet.
President of the Russian company Sukhoi, Jevgenij Andratsjnikov, started to celebrate once the sale was finalized. The buyer is Zambia’s president Edgar Lungu. Zambia is the 5th largest receiver of Norwegian aid in the past 50 years.
According to Russian media, the president of Sukhoi was jubilant as he admitted that the price of the luxury jet was quite steep. The luxury jets that Sukhoi deals in and that Zambia’s president purchased are normally priced at 400 millioner nok kroner. Zambia is one of the largest receivers of Norways aid, 55% of Zambia’s population live in extreme poverty.
Sukhoi confirmed that the price at which the luxury jet purchased by Zambia’s president was much higher than the usual Sukhoi planes because the Zambian president wanted a specially designed interior.
Lungu leads a country where 5% of children are underweight because of lack of nutrition according to the WHO.
The interior pictures of the Sukhoi luxurious business jet bought by the president of Zambia for around 400million nok kroner. The luxury jet has its own bar for the president and his guests, it has a huge living room with a double bed.
Zambia lies in the southern central part of Africa and has a population of 16.6 million. It was a British colony and thereafter a part of northern Rhodesia from 1911-1964. It got its independence in 1964 and was on the frontline in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. In the past 50 years Zambia has been a large receiver of Norwegian aid. 60% of Zambias poplution live under the poverty datum line, according to official statistics. 42% live in extreme poverty. 40% of children suffer from stunted growth and 15% are underweight because of malnourishment according to WHO.
The contract to build and purchase a specially designed VIP jet for the Zambian president was signed in September in Moscow. According to Sukhoi, ‘the interior is designed to adapt to the customers preferences and reflects the customers prestige’
As of 2017 Norway has given Zambia over 15 billion nok to build democracy and fight poverty since 1966. Aid has been reducned the last couple of years. In 2017/2018 the Norwegian government extended 170 million nok to Zambia.
The president last year built villas for 35 million nok in Swaziland according the the BBC. He received land from King Mswati as a present.
Another scandal concerning the agriculture cooperative (ZNFU) that Norway supported for many years where the local CEO was awarded a salary of 230.000 nok per month and built a tennis court and fish dam.
Zambia is now in the process of taking up a loan from Russia to finance the sale of the luxury jet and 4 other planes.
‘this is a sad development’ says Norways last ambassador to Zambia Arve Ofstad. ‘I am having trouble understanding why he needs that kind of plane?, it is clear that this has become a nationalistic symbol of a president’s role and importance as in many other African countries’
Lungu was elected on promises that he would end corruption and reduce poverty, but it seem corruption and power arrogance are heavily prevalent in the system. He limits freedom of expression, consolidates his power in a country that is really liberal and open- says ofstad. He further says we cannot control the countries that receive aid or how they use our tax payers money. Their own populations have to hold them to account through elections, said the former ambassador. It is extra saddening that that the president and his people are abusing the states resources in this manner
Norway’s prime minister Solberg has suggested an allocation in the state-budget on Monday of 37.8 billion nok in aid divided amongst 82 different countries in 2019, an increase of 7.1 in aid.
Norway will this year stop aid to Zambia’s government , but will continue to support civil society organisations next year with 57 million nok.
All agreements will go through Norads support framework to CSOs and no funds will be channeled through the government of Zambia- says State Secretary Jens Frolich Holte in an email.
The UN’s SDGs are clear that a country must use its resources on development, the development effect of a private jet is debatable says Holte.
SOS childrens village is one of the Norwegian organisations that carrys out aid activities in Zambia, in septemebr thousands of Norwegian studens took part in a school marathon to fundraise for Zambian children. When asked what she thought of the purchase of the 400 million luxury jet the general secretary of SOS Bente Lier responded ‘this does not lessen our responsibility, SOS resources go directly to work to strengthen families in crisis and give children care and education. The funds do not go through the government.