Jetgate: Mkwezalamba fails to clarify ‘serious inaccuracies’

Minister of Finance Dr. Maxwell Nkwezalamba on Tuesday angered delegates to Public Affairs Committee (PAC) all inclusive stakeholders conference taking place at Mount Soche hotel when he failed to explain why there is no evidence to show that government is in receipt of money realised from the sale of the presidential jet.

PAC – made up of the main Protestant, Catholic and Muslim faith groups in Malawi – organised the  third All Inclusive  Stakeholders  Conference  to  allow  stakeholders  to   thoroughly  examine  the  current  political  and  economic  challenges  the  country  is  facing.

The media exposed that a company linked to arms dealer Paramount had bought the Dassault Falcon 900EX from the Malawi government last year and sent it to South Africa, where it was used by private clients.

Mkwezalamba:   Could not give a plausible answer on where the jet money was deposited
Mkwezalamba: Could not give a plausible answer on where the jet money was deposited

However, proceeds from the sale (US$ 15 million) of the jet cannot be traced as they did not go through Account Number One at the central bank as is normally the case.

At the PAC conference, opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesman Ken Ndanga asked the Finance Minister to unpack the jet transaction in view of what he called different version of the same transaction.

The UDF spokesman said so far there has never been any evidence to show the jet was indeed sold.

“We in the UDF do not believe that the Jet was sold but if it was sold as it has been claimed,  government should tell us  which account the money was deposited,” said Ndanga.

The UDF spokesman added that government ought to be transparent on this matter because it is public money.

But Nkwezalamba could not tell the meeting where the Jet money is despite calls from the audience who demanded that he explains the jet transaction.

All he could say was that the jet was sold and that government bought maize which unfortunately cannot be traced.

Civil society organisations, under the banner of the Grand Coalition, are planning to hold nationwide street demonstrations this Thursday to protest the handling of the ‘cashgate’ affair and issues surrounding the controversial sale of the presidential jet.

Mutharika controversially bought the jet from the US at US$22 million. Britain protested by cutting down £3 million annually in aid since London believed part of British aid financed the acquiring of the jet.

When she took over power, President Banda promised to sell the jet because it was expensive to maintain.

The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) made a major issue recently of the “mysterious jet” which Banda was using.

“We were greatly shocked to find out that it is the same former Malawi government plane which was flying late Bingu around.

“It is the very same plane that President Joyce Banda swore to the Malawi nation and the world at large that she would never fly in,” DPP secretary general Jean Kalilani said.

During the PAC conference, Professor Matthews Chikaonda, Group Chief Executive Officer of Press Corporation, spoke on ‘Insulating Economic and Development Policies in Malawi’, Dr Gaston Kanchedzala of the University of Malawi made a presentation on ‘The Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability in Malawi’, while Ministers of Finance and Justice and Constitutional Affairs spoke on ‘State of Affairs on Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability in Malawi.

Whereas Reverend William Mumba of Zomba Theological College will on Wednesday speak on ‘Morality and Integrity in Malawi: A Faith-based Perspective’.

At the end of the two day meeting stakeholders will come up with up with resolutions.

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