Malawi President Peter Mutharika has agreed to an embarrassing U-turn on the proposal for government to purchase a presidential jet in order for the Head of State to avoid airport queues or the “inconvenience” of waiting for flights.
Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa said government has decided to reverse a decision on the proposal to consider new plane for the President afterMutharika was subjected to criticism in the UK media after a report by Nyasa Times quoting Nankhumwa that the country, like any other nation, needs a presidential jet for convenient travelling of State President.
But after British newspaper, The Express picked the story calling for halt of all British support to Malawi over the matter, government has decided to put the proposal on hold.
Locally, vocal human rights activist Timothy Mtambo of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), wondererd: “Where will the money come from if we are struggling to manage the zero-aid budget? I did not expect this from this government this early. Here is the President who says he is not excited with travels, and where is this coming from?”
Nankhumwa, who is government spokesman, insists his remarks were proposals that Malawi should consider buying a presidential jet to be used by leaders or continue chartering planes as President Muthatika did during his recent trip to the United States.
“In all fairness every country needs a presidential jet for convenient travelling; and as government we still think it was a mistake to sell the jet that was bought,” said Nankhumwa.
Critics questioned the cost effectiveness of chartering aircrafts for the president when he is on foreign trips.
He said much as some people advocate for the president to be using public flights, there are several setbacks with that arrangement including loss of time.
“The President experiences a lot of inconveniences like time losses in flight connections, and hence affecting his programmes whenever he is on public flights,” Nankhumwa said.
Immediate past president Joyce Banda sold the country’s 14-seat Dassault Falcon 900EX presidential jet, as part of cost-cutting measures.
Her predecessor, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, was strongly criticised for buying the jet seven years ago at a cost of about $13.3m (£8.5m).
Donors cut aid to Malawi by $4.4 million after the purchase.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :