AS Government, we acknowledge the important role that the air force plays in safeguarding the Zambian air space, as well as, fostering peace and security. This has in turn created an enabling environment for foreign and local investments in our nation.
My government is, therefore, fully committed to supporting the air force in ensuring efficient execution of your roles.
I am pleased to note that the ZAF administration has been adaptive, innovative and has vigorously challenged the norms in the interest of progress and development.
Personally, I am an advocate of transformation at all levels of Government for social and economic development to take place. I, therefore, urge every Zambia Air Force (ZAF) officer to contribute positively towards the transformation of the institution.
As we transform, we must leave the past behind and embrace positive attitudes and new approaches.Â This will result in a smart and productive Zambia through the effective protection of the Zambian air space.
To this end, my government stands ready to support the growth, expansion and modernisation programme of the air force through the acquisition of aerial air assets, platforms and air defence equipment.
This development will enable the air force attain its vision of â€œcreating a lean, well equipped, well trained, professional and efficient tactical air force, capable of responding to the air power needs of the 21st century Zambia in furtherance and pursuit of elevating Zambia to a middleÂ incomeÂ nation.â€™â€™
The acquisition of new equipment is a long-term investment and a great cost to my government and the people of Zambia. In this regard, I urge you to take care of this equipment and observe the highest standards of maintenance and safety.
The ZAF of tomorrow demands that you adopt a new paradigm to resolving your current and future challenges. You must be dynamic, if you are to remain relevant to meeting the emerging social, economic and security challenges faced by Zambia now and in future.
I am aware of the newly-recruited officers and airmen in the air force, these will only contribute effectively to the success of the air force, if you foster a spirit of innovation in them, and embrace technological advancements in military aviation.
As we endeavour to transform, ZAF must envisage spreading to all the countryâ€™s 10 provinces in tandem with governmentâ€™s growth and expansion programme.
Let me also remind you that your mandate is to ensure the protection of our investments and natural resources in urban and remote areas of our nation.
As we execute our mandate, we should be cognisant that Zambia is a growing economy faced with numerous economic challenges. I therefore, implore you to promote cost effective measures and eliminate wastage and abuse of public resources and equipment.
Government is alive to the critical issues facing ZAF and its personnel. Our immediate interventions to these challenges include the review of the conditions of service in accordance with the submissions made to the salaries review commission and other relevant stakeholders.Â Government remains firmly resolute to improving the living and working conditions of air force personnel.
Going forward, Government will continue to support your long-term infrastructure and human resource development programmes. This calls for you to adopt a futuristic approach in your efforts to improve the status of the air force.
It is also imperative that the partnership that exists between the air force and Government continue as we foster our countryâ€™s transformation into a more prosperous nation, from lower middle income to a developed country by 2064.
My Government also remains committed to fostering win-win partnerships with other technologically advanced countries so as to achieve development in the countryâ€™s civil and military aviation sectors.
In view of this, I wish to encourage the air force to identify nations with whom we collaborate bilaterally to exploit their possibility of providing training to the aircrew and technical personnel.
Let me assure you that my government will continue to promote inclusive growth through partnerships and joint ventures.
I am happy to note that ZAF has been complementing Government efforts in infrastructure development.Â While infrastructure development is a priority, Government recognises that financing remains a key challenge.
In this regard, Government is exploring innovative means of financing capital projects among other possibilities through the public private partnerships.
It is inspiring to note that ZAF has employed public-private partnership to construct supporting social amenities and facilities, an air force academy, sports complex, shopping malls and a resort hotel for the Twin Palm housing project.
The projects I have outlined are all aimed at improving the quality of life of our people as well as create jobs.
Allied to this, is the ambitious infrastructure development programme which the air force has embarked on aimed at creating a conducive working environment as well as, uplifting the general standards to acceptable levels.
In the same vein, I wish to commend the Air Power Ladies Club for complementing your efforts through various fundraising projects. One notable project this noble club has initiated is the Air Force hospital to cater for the health care needs of air force personnel and the community at large.
Our desire as Government is to revitalise the Zambia Air Services Training Institute (ZASTI) in order to ensure adequate supply of human resource for our aviation industry.
I wish to also acknowledge the vital role that ZAF schools play in training pilots and technicians.Â In view of this, it is imperative that ZAF continues promoting capacity building to improve the quality of human resource for the aviation industry.
Let me now use this opportunity to pay tribute to ZAF for the exemplary service and dedication to national duty.Â The conduct of ZAF personnel remains above board and I am happy to note that you are a united force that truly embodies the principle of â€˜One Zambia, One Nationâ€™.
ZAF personnel have remained professional and politically neutral throughout the various political changes our great nation has undergone.
I urge ZAF to continue being patriotic and loyal to the constitution and the people of Zambia. You must always place the nation before personal interests.
The author is President of Zambia