Malawi President Peter Mutharika has been subjected to criticism in the UK media after a report by Nyasa Times quoting Information Minister Kondwani Nankhuwa that hinted plans for government to purchase a presidential jet in order for the Head of State to avoid airport queues or the “inconvenience” of waiting for flights.
The Express picked the story calling for halt of all British support to Malawi over the matter.
In the article, The Express reports that President of one of the world’s poorest nations has vowed to buy himself “an Air Force One-style presidential jet “ – as British taxpayers’ prepare to take their spending on foreign aid for the country close to £400m.
It also quoted President Mutharika lamenting on the “inconvenience” of waiting for flights and again government spokesman Nankhumwa justifying the need for presidential private plane.
The report said the story has attracted “angry response” both in Britain and Malawi, with critics branding the request “absurd”- not least because more than half of Malawians live on less than a $1 a day.
In the next week British elections , The Express is backing UK independence Party (UKIP) of tough talking Nigel Farage. The UKIP leader is not going to 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister after Thursday’s vote as his party is unlikely to get majority parliamentary seats if opinion polls are anything to go by. But UKIP may seal a deal for a coalition government if there will be a hung parliament and that it is if it secures more seats.
The Express quoted Nathan Gill, UKIP’s development spokesman, condemning the idea of Malawi President to have a private jet calling it “ridiculous elite”.
“This just highlights UKIP’s policy of reducing our development spending and concentrating on dropping trade barriers.
“If we did that maybe the people of Malawi would benefit and not just their ridiculous elite”.
Expert in UK aid Jonathan Foreman called for all Britain’s aid funding to Malawi to be halted until assurances were given that Mutharika would not be purchasing a new jet.
“Mutharika buying a jet for himself while his countrymen live in poverty, and while foreign aid keeps his country’s inadequate schools and clinics going, is the reality behind what the aid industry calls ‘poor governance’.
“It’s because so much aid goes to leaders like him that countries like Malawi remain so poor even after billions have been donated by the West,” The Express quoted Foreman, whose book titled ‘Aiding & Abetting’ explains the pitfalls in delivering aid.
He added: “We’ve stopped giving money to the corrupt Malawian government before in 2013 and if DfID has any concern at all for the British taxpayer – and for the people of Malawi who are the supposed beneficiaries of UK aid – they would stop all aid to that country until we get assurances that Mutharika won’t be buying any private jets.”
The Express also quoted “ordinary Malawians” reactions to reports of a lavish new presidential jet.
“What’s wrong with spending seven hours in the business lounge at airports sipping his favourite whiskey?” the paper quoted unnamed primary school teacher.
“Most of us can’t even afford a bus ticket to Johannesburg.”
Another said: “Government says the economy is bad everyone must tighten up their belts and yet the President wants to travel in luxury. It doesn’t make sense.”
UK suspended budget support through government but it is still helping the country through t projects carried out by independent aid agencies.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :