Malawi President Joyce Banda and her Minister of Finance Maxwell Mkwezalamba have chosen to differ on statements of facts related to the use of proceeds from the controversial sale of the presidential jet thereby maintaining serious inaccuracies to the deal.
Mkwezalamba told journalists last Wednesday jet sale proceeds $15 million (about K6.3 billion) did not go into the Malawi Government account, instead the Attorney General facilitated the transfer of the funds from Bohol Enterprises, which bought the jet, to arms dealer Paramount Group, its parent company
When he provided a breakdown to journalists of how the proceeds from the jet sale were spent, Mkwezalamba said contrary to what President Banda said, the cash was not used for fertiliser for the Farm Input Loan Programme (Filp)
But when she was featured in Tiuzeni Zoona Programme aired on Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) on Sunday, President Banda maintained the cash were used to buy maize.
“The money [from the sale of the jet] was used to purchase maize. This is the reason people were not fighting at Admarc depots,” said the President during the interview in which she was given more time to speak and explain and had mostly leading question and not the usual no-holds-barred that such interview programmes normally have.
President Banda maintained that her Cabinet agreed that the cash from sale of the 14-passenger aircraft should be used to purchase maize with the remainder used to buy drugs and military equipment.
The jet – Dassault Falcon 900 EX, formerly 7Q-ONE, but now registered as ZS-FCI after the ownership change to Bhonox Enterprise, -had been bought by Banda’s predecessor, Bingu WA Mutharika who died from a heart attack in 2012.
When she took over office, Banda introduced a gamut of cost-cutting measures and uses commercial airlines to travel outside the country.
Recently, the Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi called for the presidential jet sale puzzle to be solved by instituting a commission of inquiry.
CCJP national secretary Chris Chisoni said apart from setting up a commission of inquiry, citizens have an option of taking the matter to court since government has not been forthcoming to explain the whole transaction.