JB explains jet cash fed the poor, bought equipment for Malawi army

President Joyce Banda on Tuesday explained that $15-million raised from last year’s sale of a Malawi presidential jet fed the poor and bought military equipment.

There have been fevered speculation that the proceeds of the jet money were embezzled.

The Minister of Finance Maxwell Mkwezalamba and the Minister of Information Brown Mpinganjira have consistently alluded to the fact that part of money realised from the luxury jet sale was used to buy drugs.

In fact, the two are on record as having said the proceeds were allocated as follows: $5.8 miilion (K2.4 billion) to Malawi Defence Force (MDF) for peacekeeping operations; $4.2 million (K1.8 billion) for Farm Input Loan Programme, $4 million (K1.7 billion) for buying medical drugs and $1 million (K420 million) for procurement of legumes and maize.

During a news conference she held at her official residence in the capital Lilongwe, President Banda told the media corps that some of the “money was also used to buy medicine and fertiliser which was loaned to farmers”.

JB: Explains use of the jet cash

JB: Explains use of the jet cash

The opposition has alleged that the presidential jet was bartered with seven used military boats from Paramount Group, an arms dealer from South Africa.

Banda said the 14-passenger aircraft deal had the participation and authorisation of the entire cabinet.

“It was me who said let’s sell the jet and the cabinet agreed three things to benefit Malawi…to buy maize, buy military equipment such as patrol boats and pay for peacekeeping mission in the DRC,” said President Banda.

Malawi has contributed soldiers to the 3,000-strong UN intervention brigade authorised to go after armed groups ravaging DR Congo.

Banda said Finance Minister Mkwezalamba would provide to the public a breakdown of how the proceeds from the jet sale were used “because there are so many questions from Malawians”.

The jet had been bought by Banda’s predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika who died from a heart attack in 2012.

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