However, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson, Gift Trapence in an interview demanded that the entourage be cut to a reasonable number saying having a delegation of 40 does not make any economic sense to any funder let alone the taxpayers.
Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima, aka “Afana oganiza bo” has been slammed by the public and civil society organisation for assembling a bloated delegation of 40 people on his up-coming trip to the United States of America later this month with some saying he is a “cheat and con”.
Chilima has been delegated on a three day official tour of duty by President Chakwera but has gone into overdrive abusing meagre public funds.
“Chilima has lost the plot here. He is showing that he is irresponsible, naïve and insensitive to the suffering Malawians who are going through the worst of economic challenges, yet he want to do maphwevu phwevu in the US by taking his entire office. He is a cheat and con with all the great speeches he made during campaign period. We believed him but now a leopard is showing its true colours. He is not a leader at all,” said Mphatso Gondwe in a Facebook social media comment.
President Chakwera delegated his vice, Chilima to form and lead a Malawi entourage to an Economic Forum at the United Nations headquarters in New York and former business captain-turned politician has drafted in a 40 delegation-member for the trip with 27 people coming from the Vice President’s office and includes the his special assistants and security officers according to the entourage list document we have seen.
The entourage also include four members of the press, two journalists, a reporter and a cameraman from MBC and a reporter and a photographer from Malawi News Agency (Mana).
According to the list, the entourage further include 12 security officers and an accounts assistant among others geared for the trip.
According to Capital Hill insiders, the country’s Vice President is expected to spend a maximum of three weeks in the US yet he is only attending a three-day event, meaning the rest of the days are a mere opportunity for his entourage to enjoy a vacation and go shopping on taxpayers hard earned money.
Said Trapence: “One would appreciate that some security personnel delegates on the list including some officials with direct link to the meeting and it is clear that some of the delegates on the list are only there to make money through allowances.
“HRDC, therefore, is demanding the list to be reduced to make an economic sense. We cannot be having 40 people travelling to the US for a meeting at government’s expense at the time when country is going through economic hardships.”
Trapence said, if is true, taking 40 people to America is a gross abuse of public resources and insensitive to the people of Malawi’s suffering due economic suffering.
“We at HRDC implores the vice president to only take people that will be useful and relevant to the assignment and not hangers-on who will just go there for a holiday,” said Trapence.
Commenting on Social media, Kingsley Mvulayagunda said: “The most shocking thing about his purported big entourage is that it depicts an irony of extraordinary
proportion as the vice president is supposed to be the first person to act with utmost prudence.”
He added: “It is demoralizing to the national spirit that the Vice President, who is in charge of Public Sector Reforms, has become the chief culprit in wasting government resources on avoidable costs.”
The reforms, among other attributes, hinge on cutting on government expenses to channel the funds in other important cost lines within the government structure.
Interestingly, the President’s most recent trip was also to United States, where he attended the UN Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in New York and also travelled to Washington to meet key people at the State Department, International Monetary Fund, Millennium Challenge Corporation and USAID among others.
According to a highly placed impeccable inside source at the Foreign Affairs ministry who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals said President Chakwera only travelled with less than 20 people to the US having cut his proposed entourage by half from the suggested 42.
“Chakwera’s 20 member entourage was enough to support the president’s engagements with six institutions in two cities besides the many side meetings.
“Yet the Vice President, who only has a single official assignment in New York with one institution in one city, plans to take a delegation of 40 and there is no justification for such a big number,” said the source.
The source said President Chakwera always travel with one Executive Assistant and yet in this trip his Vice President wants to take with him about six Special Assistants for the US trip scheduled for 25th to 28th April, 2022.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :