President Banda sanctions sale of presidential jet

Malawi President Joyce Banda on Thursday finally let the cat out of the bag and disclosed that her government was going to sell the presidential jet controversially bought by her predecessor late  Bingu Wa Mutharika bought with donor money meant to assist poor Malawians.

President Banda disclosed this in London when he addressed Malawians living in the United Kingdom.

She said her cabinet had recommended that the jet be sold off, a decision that she had agreed with.

President Banda boarding the presidential jet which will be offloaded

“Cabinet resolved that we must sell the presidential jet and I have no problem with that, we are selling the jet,” said President Banda at Claridges Hotel in London when she separately hosted the Royal African Society and Britain’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Malawi and Zambia.

President Banda said by selling the jet she was demonstrating to Malawians that as their leader she was ready to make painful sacrifices together with the people in order to build a better Malawi.

“I am prepared to suffer if I travel to Mozambique, Zambia or Tanzania where I will now have to take two days to arrive and yet with the jet I would take only two hours,” she said.

Since taking over after Mutharika’s death from a heart attack in April, she has launched a national austerity drive which seeks to “cut back on government expenditure through a number of on-going measures.”

Banda said selling the presidential jet was in line with her vision for economic recovery and also ensuring Malawians that she was prepared to make sacrifices alongside them as they suffer the impact of the 40 percent devaluation of the kwacha.

The President said her government had decided to promote a private sector led economic growth with five priorities namely diversification of commercial agriculture, promoting tourism, investments in the mining and energy sectors and develop infrastructure in ICT, rail, road and airline transport.

Commenting on the repeal of the purported contentious laws, the President said Malawi’s constitution did not give her the powers alter, change or repeal any laws of the land but that such mandate lied in the people of Malawi.

“What I have to do as Head of State is to push the laws that I feel are contentious to the people to discuss and change them through the National Assembly,” she said.

President Banda said the law on homosexuality, gay rights and minority rights was still being discussed by Malawians and that it would be the people that would decide what to do.

“Whatever the people say is what shall prevail. I don’t have the powers or right to change any law in Malawi,” she said.

President Banda has since left  the United Kingdom  for United States.

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