Former President Joyce Banda will be quizzed by government to establish the truth about the disposal of the French-made jet to Bohnox Enterprises Limited, a subsidiary of Paramount Group, a South Africa-based defence and military equipment supplier.
The Banda administration had given conflicting explanations on the sale of the jet, including how the State had used the proceeds of the jet—prompting some donors such as the United Kingdom, opposition parties and civil society organisations (CSOs) to demand an investigation into the sale.
It was disclosed that the jet was “battered off” to offset a $19 million debt owed to Paramount Group.
“It was me who said let’s sell the jet and the Cabinet agreed three things to benefit Malawi…to buy maize, buy military equipment such as patrol boats and pay for peacekeeping mission in the DRC,” Banda is on record to have said.
Some of the “money was also used to buy medicine and fertiliser, which was loaned to farmers,” she said.
Malawi coughed $22m to buy the Dassault Falcon 900EX jet in 2009 under late Bingu wa Mutharika’s rule, a move that angered western donors who claimed that the jet was partly bought using donor funds aimed at uplifting the impoverished citizenry.
Secretary to Treasury (ST) Ben Botolo has told a local press that the jet was battered off, there was need for a thorough investigation, to find out how the deal was conducted and where the proceeds went.
He said it is an important and outstanding matter that needed to be pursued and not as witchunt.
Defence and Security Committee of Parliament chairperson Charles Tikhiwa has said it is now clear that government was duped, according to quotes reported in the press.
“It’s clear proper procedures on the sale of the jet were not followed. We understand Malawi Defence Force (MDF) was not aware about the deal; Cabinet was simply informed when it was actually supposed to approve the transaction, and everything seems was done in suspicious manner.
“The issues that the presidential jet was battered off were made known way too long and after government was pressured to provide answers on how much the jet was sold,” Tikhiwa said.
Government promised to come up with a report which will be made public so that citizens will have to appreciate how processes were conducted in selling the jet.
While initially the Banda administration claimed it had sold the jet at $15 million and used the proceeds to procure arms and maize, following a number of investigative stories that dismissed the assertion, the administration through the task force finally confirmed that the jet was traded off to offset a debt the government owed to Paramount Group.
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