Malawi presidential jet buyer speaks out: ‘Jet was placed in SA for leave’

The buyer of the controversial Malawi’s presidential jet Bohnox Enterprises Limited has come out in the open confirming that they had purchased the jet and also that the aircraft is currently in South Africa being run by a leasing company in that country.

In a statement made available to Nyasa Times on Tuesday, the company stated that at the moment neither the Malawi Government nor itself, as a financial services company that invests in aircraft, has no control over the aircraft would be used while in the hands of the South African Aircraft Operating Company.

“Subsequent to our acquisition of this aircraft, we placed it in South Africa with an Aircraft Operating Company as part of its charter fleet. For the avoidance of any doubt, this Falcon 900 EX – Serial Number 38, was sold by the Government of Malawi to our Organisation,” reads the statement.

Cheif Justice Richard Banda RTD hugs President Banda as she alights from the jet

Cheif Justice Richard Banda RTD hugs President Banda as she alights from the jet

The statement adds: “The Government of Malawi has nothing to do with the management of the aircraft as it is no longer its property.”

Bohnox explains that as a Financial Services Company that invests in Aircraft its primary activity is the acquisition, overhaul, refurbishment and sale or lease of various aircraft and that it acquired the presidential jet in line with its normal business activities after Malawi placed a tender for the plane.

“We were informed by the Government of Malawi on 18th May, 2013 that we had been successful in our bid. We proceeded with the acquisition of the aircraft, which has now been registered in our name,” says the company.

Bohnox says the statement aims at clearing the issue following “intensive miscommunication in various articles” around the organization’s acquisition of the Falcon 900 EX previously belonging to the Government of Malawi.

In February last year, the Government of Malawi advertised the sale of the presidential jet by formal tender, under Tender Reference OPC/IPC/15/38/14/13 following pressure from both at home and internationally that with its economic stature Malawi cannot afford the luxury of running such a private jet.

However, of late there have been suggestions in the media that the Joyce Banda administration which initiated the sale, did after all not sell the jet after it was noted that the president has on several occasions used the same plane on several of her travels abroad.

State House and Government have been having tough times to explain how the same plane is being used by the president only to explain that it was being chartered by some ‘well wishers’.

The jet was sold at $15 million (roughly K6.7 billion at present exchange rates), according to the agreement signed between Malawi’s Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and Bohnox Enterprises.

The Ministry of Information, in a statement issued two weeks ago, said whatever and however the buyer uses the ex-presidential jet is beyond the mandate of the Government of Malawi.

“Bohnox Enterprise Enterprises Limited, as government understands, is in the business of leasing out planes to whosoever is capable and legible. Therefore, government has no concern with the plane being advertised for charter or sale by its current owners.

“In cases where a well-wisher offers to charter a plane for the State President, government’s responsibility is to provide the standards of the plane befitting the President of the Republic of Malawi to the well-wisher. The well wisher is, therefore, at liberty to charter from qualifying entities. This is the case too when government charters a plane using its own resources.”

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