ZAF officers have appealed to President Edgar Lungu to appoint an Airforce Commander having sacked Lieutenant General Eric Chimese.
The Zambia Air Force officers, who sought anonymity, alleged that there was a lot of abuse of funds in the airforce, which could otherwise greatly assist officers get loans if such money was placed in the ZAF-Credit Union Association (ZAF-CUSA) scheme.
In an interview, a group of officers said the delay in appointing the substantive ZAF Commander compromised the security operations of the airforce.
“We are appealing to our Commander-In-Chief, President Edgar Lungu, to urgently appoint a ZAF Commander. Since he placed our boss, Lieutenant General Eric Chimese, on forced leave, we have had our deputy Major General David Muma acting as ZAF Commander. If the Head of State is comfortable with Maj Gen Muma, he should elevate him to the rank of Lt Gen and appoint him as Commander. As at now, he [Maj Gen Muma] is being cautious as of what to do because he is not a sworn-in ZAF Chief,” the sources said.
Another officer indicated that the non-appointment of a ZAF commander was greatly compromising national security as the acting Commander did not draw 100 per cent loyalty from the men and women in uniform.
“We want a Commander who will carry out duties with courage and diligence on behalf of the President. We know that others used to boast that if they were to be dropped, others such as the Presidency would be affected, so if our Commander-in-Chief, President Lungu, is not compromised by such people, he should give us a Commander, he should just elevate those that are in acting positions,” the source said.
Asked who was boasting like that, the officers refused to mention names but that it was obvious the former ZAF commander was in a habit of boasting about the presidency.
The sources further appealed to President Lungu to have a check on the airforce’s usage of finances, adding that the abuse had continued even after Lt Gen Chimese’s removal.
“Here in Livingstone, we have heard that K150,000 was sent recently for clearance of outstanding claims such as leave and other entitlements but this money has been diverted to other areas such as the renovation of the Station Commander’s Office. We also hear that a lot of money was abused by the last ZAF command. We want this money back so that it can be placed in the ZAF-CUSA so that officers can obtain micro-loans,” the officers indicated.
Another officer bemoaned the lack of promotions in ZAF, which he said was affecting the working morale of officers.
“For over a period of five years, we have not seen tangible promotions, so we are appealing to the Head of State to assist us by ensuring that deserving officers get promoted,” said the source.