Malawi Government has said that it plans to launch a probe into the controversial sale of the country’s presidential jet by the former government of Joyce Banda.
The announcement comes barely days after the current government of Arthur Peter Mutharika launched fresh forensic audit in the Capital Hill Cashgate in which billions of kwachas were dubiously siphoned from the government coffers.
In an interview newly appointed Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said government would like 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.
“Yes, I can confirm that we will launch an investigation into the sale of the jet. It has not started yet, but we will do so,” said Gondwe.
The sale of the jet, whose purchase by the administration of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika was also littered with controversies, raised a number of questions in the way it was sold and as to how the money was used.
Government initially gave 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 however later transpired that the jet was “battered off” to offset a $19 million debt owed to Paramount Group.
The Banda administration then further claimed it was not aware that Bohnox was part of the Paramount Group.
Reacting to the development in an interview with one of the local newspapers, Chris Chisoni, national coordinator for the country’s Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), said the nation was demanding justice and accountability on the sale of the jet.
“We are very happy government is taking that step. We need an inquest into what happened. When we made the call for accountability and transparency on the sale, it was not aimed at a particular person. So, today we still repeat as civil society that we want the nation to be told the truth,” said Chisoni.
Chisoni said there was a lot of noise when the jet was sold because nobody was consulted in the country and nobody knew the truth.
He said if an inquest reveals procurement procedures were flouted, the deal should be cancelled and the jet be returned whereas if the process was fair, the country should still reclaim the proceeds of the jet.
“We have to see the money in Account Number One. I don’t think it will be a tough job. The newspapers in the country, did a number of investigative stories full of details of what transpired and government should quickly move in to ensure the proceeds are returned to the citizens of this country,” added Chisoni.
The Dassault Falcon 900EX jet bought in 2009 cost Malawi almost $22m, a move that angered western donors who claimed that the jet was partly bought using donor funds aimed at uplifting the impoverished citizenry.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :