President Banda justifies foreign trips

Malawi’s new President Mrs Joyce Banda  has justified her frequent international official trips .

Opposition in parliament accused President  Banda of travelling too much at the expense of tax payers.

Banda old journalists during a media briefing Thursday at Chileka Airport on her return from an official visit to the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA)  that government acknowledges the concerns over the frequent trips.

She however clarified that her trip to USA and UK was to repair the image of Malawi to the international donors, which soured during the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration.

President Banda: Trips were not funded by Malawi government

“I was on an image building tour, I did this upon realizing that my country had gone through difficult times and this partly emanated from the poor relationship we had with the international community,” said Banda.

“I could not just sit and expect that what had gone wrong with the previous regime would be normalized by simply talking to the people concerned without meeting them in person,” she explained,” adding that she had to go and meet them to instil confidence especially with the donor community.

Banda said Malawi government did not foot any bills for the overseas trip.

“I was invited by Queen Elizabeth and it is the UK government that processed my trip so too with the one to USA, it is the USAID that bought me and my entourage tickets for the trip,” disclosed Banda.

“However, the significance of these trips cannot be overemphasized, as I already said Malawi’s relationship with the international world was at all time low so being the head of state I took the courage to mend the fences,” added Banda amid hand clapping from the audience.

She cited also her recent State visit to Mozambique, that it was paid for by the Mozambican government because she was only invited.

“The other thing Malawians need to know is that once any person assumes the Presidential seat, she needs to pay courtesy calls to other Presidents,” she said.

On her visits to the UK and USA, the president described them as immense success.

“I met heads of IMF and the World Bank where I presented our case.  But let me tell my fellow Malawians that no decision was made at the meetings we had, our fate will be known after boards of these institutions meet possibly later this month,” clarified Banda.

Foreign Affairs Minister Ephraim Mganda Chiume told Nyasa Times that President Banda  has made sure she does not take to heart criticism of his trips because  she knows she does it for the good of the Malawian people.

Chiume also disclosed that the presidential entourage is reduced in order to cut on costs.

Commission of Inquiries

On criticisms that her government has instituted a lot of commissions of enquired which require a lot of public funds, the first citizen cleared the mist, saying  there were only two commissions of enquiry which she instituted.

“The inquiries that I have instituted are one for our son Robert Chasowa and the other one on the death of the late President, otherwise the other one is a Cabinet committee headed by the Vice President that has to report to the cabinet on the issues they have been assigned to find out,” said President Banda.

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