THE Ministry of Defence has advised politicians to desist from dragging military personnel into their political affairs because security forces have the mandate to protect the territorial interests of the country.
Speaking during a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday, deputy minister of Defence Christopher Mulenga said there has been a number of statements regarding the Zambia Defence Forces, in particular the Zambia Air Force (ZAF), concerning the issuance of air space clearances.
Mr Mulenga said the general public should desist from making careless statements which will impugn on the character of those in command and the security services.
‘’Such statements have a tendency of causing despondency and may cause unwanted uprising in the rank and file of the forces at this critical time. I wish to implore all peace-loving Zambians to allow our defence forces to work professionally in unity especially at this critical time as we go to the polls,’’ he said.
He noted that it was necessary for the ministry to enlighten the public on the procedure for air space clearance by ZAF and also the welfare of the defence personnel because it had repeatedly been reported in both the print and social media.
Mr Mulenga said in the case of application for political party campaign flights, the overriding consideration has been to ensure that aircraft carrying officials from different political parties did not operate from the same airfield at any given time, especially in small districts and towns.
He said it was potentially dangerous for two major opposing political party helicopters or aircraft to operate from the same airfield at one particular time.
Mr Mulenga said where approval was granted and a clearance number was issued, aircraft operators were expected to abide by the details of the clearance in their execution of their subsequent flight plans and failure by an operator to abide by the flight plans amounted to air space violation.
He said the possibility of party supporters clashing at these airfields was extremely high and as Ministry of Defence they would not want to create such a volatile environment that would lead to a catastrophe.
Mr Mulenga said the application form to request for airspace clearance was readily available to all intending air space users and could be downloaded from the ZAF website, airspace email@example.com.
‘‘The UN provides accommodation and food and therefore only pays them an allowance to cater for their expendables.