President Lungu Buys US$400m Private Jet Whilst Nurses Go Unpaid
Africa Confidential has revealed that President Lungu has recently purchased a brand-new Gulfstream business jet.
The new jet arrived on February 28th and is parked in a purpose-built hanger at Lusaka international airport, which now boasts a new VIP lounge.
The standard price for one of these is US$65 million, however sources have said that add ons such as radar systems, and maintenance packaged bring the total of Lungu’s new toy up to US$400 million.
One source who was involved in the procurement process told Africa Confidential that Lungu paid $130 million for the plane alone. The financing package was under negotiation with an Israeli bank and now appears to have been re-assigned to government lawyers, suggesting that state funds have bene used.
The timing could not be worse, as public sector salaries are delayed for the longest time in recent Zambian history. Zambia's Nurses' Union in a statement on 5 March expressed 'huge concerns' over the 'anxiety and panic' the delays have caused, demanding an official explanation from the government. While nurses are still unpaid for February, senior civil servants will enjoy yet more perks after the government doubled their allowances. There is concern about a crackdown on dissent as well following the suspension of the licence of broadcaster Prime TV for 'opinionated' news coverage.
Our financial problems persist. The last Treasury Bond auction was poorly subscribed, and the government had to find around $200m to pay domestic creditors this week. The PF government continues to show poor economic management and the President’s new purchase will surely add salt to the wound for many Zambians struggling to stay afloat.