African arms group, Paramount has disputed a report in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper that the company was helping Malawian President Joyce Banda to subvert her pledge to get rid of the impoverished country’s costly presidential jet.
The Telegraph reported that a company linked to 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.
But Ivor Ichikowitz, executive chairman of the Paramount Group, said the Telegraph story had “some serious inaccuracies
“The Telegraph have got this thing quite seriously wrong,” Ichikowitz is quoted by the Business Day.
“We are thinking about issuing a statement but it’s really the responsibility of the government of Malawi to respond,” he said.
President Banda was widely hailed for setting a good example to her African peers after she announced she was disposing of the jet and a government fleet of 60 Mercedes-Benz limousines which were used by he predecessor, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, and his cabinet.
President Banda has been under pressure to explain her use of the jet, which was sold to Bohnox Enterprises.
Ichikowitz said he was concerned that the Telegraph report had given “some impression that there was impropriety” with regard to Ms Banda’s travel arrangements.
“This is an attempt by the opposition in Malawi to damage the name and reputation of the president. This has become a domestic political issue,” he said.
Banda took over in 2012 when Mutharika died of a heart attack and she was vice-president. Elections are due on May 20, the 50th anniversary of independence from Britain of the former Nyasaland.