Malawi President Peter Mutharika on Wednesday held a news conference in Lilongwe on his United Nations trip and explained on the bloated delegation, disclosing it was 106 in total but that most people including some ministers were funded by other organisations not the tax payer’s money.
Before addressing reporters, Mutharika commented on his religious advisor Apostle Timothy Khoviwa’s earlier prayer.
“I really need grace to answer some of the lies and irresponsible statements that have been made by some politicians and some irresponsible media houses,” said Mutharika.
Mutharika explained that Malawi delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, was 106 but that most of the people who came on Malawi accreditation were funded by other organisations, citing Mzuzu University and Luanar Vice Chancellors who were at UN on Malawi team but had their own funding.
The Malawi leader said among other members of the Malawi delegation who were not funded by the government included civil society activist Emma Kaliya and Lucky Mbewe.
He also said the Malawi ministry of foreign affairs delegation was funded by UN and that only Minister of Foreign Affairs , George Chaponda was funded from Capital Hill.
According to Mutharika, ministry of health officials were funded by UNICEF and that Minister of Gender, Patricia Kaliati did also not travel on funding from government purse.
“This government did not pay, you are so obsessed about money that am wasting your money. This nonsense has got to stop,” said Mutharika in the news conference covered live on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and monitored by Nyasa Times through online streaming.
Mutharika stressed that “Malawi delegation was the smallest” at the UN as compared to other nations.
Sounding furious, Mutharika asked his critics on the New York trip to: “Get over it now.”
He denied that his delegation and hangers-on flaunted their penchant for merry-making and shopping for expensive designer suits in New York, saying such assertions were “ completely garbage.”
Mutharika said he had to take a number of people, mostly technocrats as his backroom staff preparing his work on a number of activities he had to work on.
“I can’t be by myself, I am not a machine. I was all the times working and these people did a tremendous job,” said Mutharika.
“I read somewhere that I did fairly well, in fact everything we did was excellent,” stated Mutharika.
President Mutharika also took time to fend off criticism that he is leading an opulent life by chartering private jets for his external trips, refuting reports that he hired an expensive executive jet to New York. The President explained that he only had hired a jet from South Africa for five hours travel between Lilongwe and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he took a commercial flight to New York.
The Head of State accused the media, particularly singling out Zodiak Radio for “irresponsible” reporting with false facts.
“It’s false, a lie and they owe me an apology. I hope they are decent enough to apologise to me. They have hurt me,” said Mutharika.
On the hired plane, Mutharika said: “It’s a small jet which has a capacity of 12 passengers. Why is that people cannot check facts.
“They are inciting people against me and the DPP that is politics.”
He noted that “no single African leader went to New York on commercial jet.”
Mutharika defended the use of hired planes, saying he is inconvenienced when he goes hitch-hatching on planes.
“One time I was at an airport for 10 hours. Do you want your president to sit at an airport for 10 hours ,” wondered Mutharika.
He said Malawi despite being poor, “should not advertise our poverty” to the world.
Asked on calls by some quarters for the President to resign, Mutharika said he will not quit.
“I am not going to step down. I have no intention to go into a debate. I have explained,” said Mutharika.
The President said he is not sitting down, disclosing that his next stop will be India and then London.
“Next week I am going to India, then in London in December for an African investment forum,” said Mutharika.
He said the foreign travels are for the benefit of Malawi and that he is actually persuaded by Minister of Foreign Affairs to attend the foreign events, saying he is not travelling to claim allowances.
“I don’t need to your money. When I came here in 2007 I was already a millionaire. I can do without your money,” he said.
“I want this radio station to tell me how I should go to India,” said Mutharika.
“Let’s stop this small vicious kind of politics of criticising without any basis,” he added.
Mutharika said the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) were wrong to criticise him on jet issue, saying when they were in power they used to take chartered jet to England for one month with hundreds of cheer leaders.
He then turned the screw on previous Peoples Party government saying the country had a presidential jet which was procured for purposes of wanting to make sure that the President uses it but it was sold in bizarre circumstances hence the sticky situation in presidential travel.
“Ask the PP government what happened to money for jet which was bought at $22 million,” he said.
Mutharika sounded more angrily when Zodiak award winning journalist Tereza Ndanga negotiated her slot to the microphone and asked the President to lead by example in slashing his spending like travel and hiring planes.
“You came with your fixed mind, I have explained this, that way, you were not listening to me,”Mutharika said.
All in all, President Mutharika said his visit to New York was “fruitful” and that no other country had more activities than Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :