Firebrand Rumphi east MP Kamlepo Kalua has again forced State House on the firing defensive firing line on the purchase of a mullti million luxury vehicle for catering and toilet facilities for President Peter Mutharika.
Kamlepo had told a local newspaper that State House had bought the vehicle at a staggering K150 million, an amount that could have provided three meals a day in all public hospitals that have since suspended provision of food and ambulance services due to huge budget cuts as Capital Hill says it has no money.
However, in a statement issued on Sunday, State House admits it has indeed bought the said vehicle but said at a price of K65 million.
According to State House spokesman Gerald Viola, the vehicle replaces another one which is six years old and always broke down on presidential convoy hence the need to replace it.
”The price was not MK150 million as alleged. It was bought as a new unit in July 2015 to replace the old one which was already second-hand when it was bought over six years ago,” explained Viola.
”This shows the mechanical condition the old unit was in. It certainly had to be replaced. The motor home is not a luxurious model because it is small and an ordinary unit in the line of motor homes.
On the President’s convoy, it is not a recreational vehicle, but a very essential and most functional unit of the convoy,” added Viola.
The statement says the vehicle is very important for Mutharika because he uses it on long journeys for resting.
”Now the President travels by road on short and long trips despite the inconvenience he suffers in doing so. He has never travelled by helicopter since he took office. This travel by road is actually less expensive than helicopter travel where the road convoys still follow him to the meeting sites.
”We should therefore commend him for these cost-cutting efforts in his travels. On these long trips, as well as long field functions, the President uses the motor home as a washroom. He also takes his meals
in it when he is on the road during meal times”.
The motor home, according to Viola, is an alternative for Mutharika instead of using filling station washrooms or other despicable facilities while on road trips, which he said would be most demeaning and a serious State security compromise.
The purchase of the vehicle comes barely months after the government led by Information minister Jappie Mhango led a ceaseless campaign of smear against leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera and Speaker of National Assembly Richard Msowoya for buying official vehicles.
Kalua says he has reliable moles in government who tips him on what is going on at State House and Capital Hill.
Donors are advising the government to cut on on unnecessary expenditures to avoid piling domestic debt that can disqualify the government from getting an International Monetary Fund extended credit facility that will unlock donor aid.-Additional reporting by Owen Khamula, Nyasa TimesFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :