AIR VICE Marshal Jacob Nzvede has decried the meagre budgetary resources to the Airforce of Zimbabwe (AFZ) warning there might not be enough aircraft and helicopters to cover the 2018 elections.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Nzvede recently appeared before the Ronald Muderedzwa-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs where he revealed to MPs that the Airforce needed $4,5 million to effectively cover the 2018 general elections.
He also revealed that the Airforce was saddled with $75,1 million debts. The Airforce boss said $3,5 million was needed to maintain the old fleet of helicopters.
“Last year (for 2017) I was given a budget of $43 100 000 including employment costs of $32 320 000, leaving me with only $10,7 million as an operational budget for the Airforce,” Nzvede said.
“If I may inform the committee that we also have $75,1 million debts incurred on contractual obligations, utility bills, goods and services.”
Nzvede told MPs that the AFZ was equipment heavy, and therefore required supplies of foreign currency to import equipment and aircraft spares.
“With a $10,7 million budget there is need for you to sympathise with the Airforce because we require rations and uniforms like the Zimbabwe National Army. The Airforce is in a difficult situation and obligations like training will be difficult to achieve.
“The budget did not include harmonised elections expected to take place next year, and aircraft requires financial injections. We need fuel for aircraft. If you announce elections today we might not have enough helicopters and aircraft and so there is need to have funding soon. If we can have $4,5 million for harmonised elections it will assist us to effectively participate in them,” he said.
The Defence committee was also told that the AFZ needed $2,2 million for aviation fuel.
“I know you are used to hearing noise during national events but currently you are missing that.
We need to overhaul our aircraft, and this is not done locally,” said the airman.
He said Thornhill Airforce Base now had challenges in that the hard stand that goes to the runway had developed cracks and small stones might end up damaging aircraft engines, adding that the air traffic control building also needed renovations.