Paramount brokered Malawi deal for DRC troops as Sadc denies paying for JB travel bill

A controversial African arms group , Paramount which has already signed deals with the Malawian government for agriculture, fuel and military contracts through a network of investment firms brokered a deal for the Malawi to equip its peacekeeping troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This has been reported by UK broadsheet daily The Telegraph.

Malawi’s government said that the money raised by the controversial presidential jet sale would go to the Malawi military to fund “peacekeeping operations” while the rest would go to agriculture and restocking medical supplies.

 President Banda : Concerning revelations
President Banda : Concerning revelations

The newspaper reported on Wednesday that Paramount Group which is run by the South African brothers Ivor and Eric Ichikowitz brokered the Malawi deal to equip Malawi troops in DRC despite being fully funded by United Nations.

Trans Africa Capital, a venture capital firm run by Eric Ichikowitz, has also signed agriculture and fuel contracts with Malawi’s government, the UK paper noted.

In November, the UK paper also  revealed that a family foundation run by the directors of Paramount was paying for Bell Pottinger, a London PR firm, to for “reputation laundering” on President Banda over the cashgate scandal.

At about the same time, Paramount signed a deal with Malawi to provide seven interceptor boats to patrol Lake Malawi.

The paper on Wednesday also highlighted that controversial continued use of sold presidential jet by the Malawian President Joyce Banda.

In the report, the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) has denied paying for Banda’s travel cost, saying the organisation never pays for the travel of African heads of State.

The revelation comes at a time the President is accused of using the same plane government off-loaded last year to cut costs.

The Telegraph cited Malawi’s flagship daily The Nation which quoted State House presidential press secretary Steven Nhlane that the President’s “well-wishers” were funding her trips abroad, including her attendance of Nelson Mandela funeral.

But Sadc spokesperson Leefa Martin, told the UK paper that she had never heard of the organisation paying for the travel of African heads of State.

“How can [Nhlane] not know how the travel of his boss is paid for?” Martin is quoted as saying.

Nhlane said well-wishers asked their  identifies to be shielded.

President Banda has been under pressure to explain her use of the jet, which was sold to Bohnox Enterprises.

Robert Phiri, executive director of the Malawi Public Affairs Committee, a watchdog, is also quoted saying the government had “nothing to hide”, it should be open about who was funding Banda’s transport.

“At the moment, no one believes what they say,” he said. “No one would believe that companies provide things entirely for free — that’s not how it works.”

Banda is currently dealing with a major scandal over corrupt procurement deals made by government departments, leading foreign donors including Britain to suspend direct aid that had accounted for 40 per cent of the impoverished country’s budget.

Currently, all the entities investigating graft—including the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Financial Intelligence Unit, and the police—report to the president.

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