It has emerged that government has not only bought one top-of-the-range Lexus LX 570 for President Peter Mutharika but there other four vehicles to be added to the fleet.
The vehicles each is pegged at about K100 million ($136 986).
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has since feigned ignorance of the purchase of the President’s vehicles.
“We gave State House a budget and they have decided to use it the way they found fit. We don’t control it,” Gondwe said.
Malawians are wondering how serious President Mutharika is about austerity with the purchase of the vehicles at a time the country is struggling economically and millions are in need of food aid.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) deputy spokesperson Ezekiel Ching’oma described the timing of the purchase as shocking and “very wrong”.
“We all expect the President to walk the talk when it comes to the implementation of necessary priorities that would benefit the local man. Remember there was an outcry when this very government bought expensive cars for parliamentary leadership? And a strong voice came from the DPP. Didn’t the government learn anything from that occurrence? Why is the government behaving as if all is well? Is it not an obvious fact that there’s a collapse in the government service delivery? And key sectors such as health, education, and agriculture are the most affected. Is this the right time for the President to live sumptuously? Seriously?
“Whilst Malawians are grappling with poverty to the core? This procurement would be equated to milking a very thin cow. We are in trouble,” said Ching’oma.
Political pressure group Transformation Alliance (TA) said in a statement said it is “inhumane” for a Head of State presiding over an economy that is one of the poorest in the world to prefer to live in another world himself.
“The timing is very bad. Maize prices have been increased by the same government from K5 500 to K12 500, a price which obviously most Malawians who live below the poverty line cannot afford.
“We are shocked by the cruelty exhibited by government to the sufferings of people. It is immoral to have double standards, one for the poor and one for the rich, like Mutharika and his cronies,” reads in part the statement signed by TA spokesperson Leonard Chimbanga.
However, presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani said there is nothing extraordinary with the procurement of the vehicle as it was approved by Parliament in 2015.
He dismissed allegations that the procurement was insensitive.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :