President Joyce Banda has disclosed that the presidential jet which was bought by government of the late President Bingu wa Mutharika will be sold together with 60 Mercedes government cars.
Mutharika bought the French-made presidential jet Dassault Falcon 900 EX in 2009 for K3.4 billion (about $22.4 million) with projected maintenance and insurance costs at US$300, 000 per year.
British media reported on Friday that the move by President Banda to “offload” the presidential jet and a fleet of luxury cars has sent a signal of her intent and her priorities at a time of financial austerity both in Malawi and Britain.
“The importance of an African leader giving up the jets and Mercedes is iconic,” The Telegraph of UK quoted Andrew Mitchell, the UK International Development Secretary who ended a three-day visit to Malawi on Friday.
“There are millions of people in need of drugs. I went to a hospital and saw people who were clearly ill queuing for drugs that were not there,” Mitchell was quoted saying.
Another British publication, The Guardian, quoted Mitchell saying that the decision to sell the presidential jet “sends an enormously encouraging signal to British taxpayers and the international community about the seriousness President Banda is applying to overturn bad decisions taken under the previous government.”
“The proceeds can be used to provide basic services to Malawi’s poorest people who urgently need help following the vital devaluation of the currency.”
Steve Sharra, a prominent Malawian blogger, said Banda’s actions were broadly welcomed by her countrymen and that she was “enjoying extraordinary amounts of goodwill and trust among Malawians.”
Critics joked, however, that Malawi was transforming from a “God-fearing country” to a “donor-fearing country”, The Telegraph reported.
“All presidents start out well and we will have to see how she behaves after she is re-elected but for me, what’s important is that she consults before taking decisions. With President Mutharika, it was his way or the highway,” Sharra said, according to The Telegraph.
Banda had given cabinet the power to decide whether to keep the jet or sell it to cabinet.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :