Malawi opposition DPP and UDF have criticised President Joyce Banda for taking over 40 people, including chiefs and party cadres on her entourage’s trip to the United Nations General Assembly in New York whereby taxpayers in Malawi’s ailing economy have coughed at least K308 million (about $1.03 million) for air tickets and allowances.
UDF acting president Friday Jumbe, Malawi’s former finance minister, said while it is presidential prerogative to pick the delegation, he said “caution must be exercised” under current economic problems.
Jumbe speaking on Daybreak Malawiprogramme on Capital FM on Wednesday observed that “it is a style of Malawi Presidents” to take such a big entrouge overseas, saying “I don’t know the significance of that.”
He said Malawi economy is boiling after being besieged by the aftermath of devaluation and austerity measures should have been applied in making the final list of the delegation.
“Under the circumstances we are in, the entrouge should have been reduced,” said Jumbe.
He however said President “ought to be accompanied by senior people, cabinet ministers, principal secretaries and aides” but wondererd the relevance of taking traditional chiefs and party cadres.
“Since we are going through hard times now, maybe the honeymoon kind of thing should be reduced,” advised Jumbe.
On his take, DPP spokesman Nicholas Dausi condemned President Banda for being insensitive with the economic situation.
“In the country where there are economic woes, where people are being told to tighten their belts- for a government to be so naive to disregard such kind of problems and blow up K308million is unbelievable,” said Dausi.
He said the development is “worrisome” and that “it definitely shows economic malaise and extravagance of highest order.”
Dausi said under late Bingu wa Mutharika, when the economy was sailing in troubled waters, government imposed a travel ban.
He praised the DPP government to have been better “in as far as financial prudence and expenditure of government coffers were concerned.”
Dausi who also served late president Kamuzu Banda said UN General Assembly in not worthy a trip of over 40 people, saying only US president and Russia leader are headline acts when addressing world leaders.
“There is nothing substantial really…what will chiefs be doing in America. They are going there to simply spend our tax resources,” said Dausi.
State House reacts
But presidential press secretary Steven Nhlane said President Banda is expected to hold a series of meetings in New York ahead of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
“Her Excellency the President is focused on using this unique opportunity where so many leaders are gathered in one place to cement ties with the international community and attract investors to put Malawi back on the path to economic growth, ” said Nhlane.
Nhlane said President Banda will have over 25 bilateral meetings and events with investors, world leaders, and philanthropic organizations.
“The goal of these meetings is to galvanize support of the international community and bring in investors into Malawi – both are essential to rebuilding Malawi’s economy.”
The presidential press secretary explained that President Banda’s work with the international community has already brought back over $500million from the IMF, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and others for Malawi’s economic growth.
He said while the trip has costs, the President has to take “these important opportunities to continue to bring in private sector investment and international community support.”
Nhlane said the UN General Assembly is a unique opportunity to hold these meetings “because so many world leaders and investors come together in one place.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :