LILONGWE (Papious Liwonde, Malawi NewsNow) –President Peter Mutharika has declared the sale of the presidential jet the Joyce Banda administration in 2013 as an illegal transaction which government will investigate,
Speaking at presser on Monday following his trip to Malta, United Kingdom and South Africa, Mutharika assured that Malawians will be informed at the conclusion of the investigation on what happened to the $14 million proceeds from the jet sale.
Mutharika said he had information that procurement procedures regarding the jet were flouted and there were contradictions on what happened to the proceeds.
In early 2014, the Joyce Banda administration told Malawians that a military equipment supplier, Paramount Group, bid for the plane at $14 million through its subsidiary Bohnox Enterprises and recovered the debt owed by Malawi Government from the transaction.
The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), which facilitated the sale, said at the time it was not aware that Bohnox Enterprises was a subsidiary of Paramount Group.
But Mutharika said there were contradictory statements on how the money, which never went into the treasury account number one, was used with the former president claiming the money was used to buy maize, other government officials saying the money was used to buy fertilizer whilst others said the jet was bartered for armed equipment.
The President said procurement procedures were flawed in the sale of the presidential jet and would dig deeper to get to the bottom of the matter.
He said he was told that then minister of Finance Maxwell Mkwezalamba claimed the proceeds were used to buy subsidised fertiliser while other sources claimed the money was used to offset a loan with Paramount Group.
Mutharika also told the nation he had a troubled trip from Malawi to Malta, saying he had a wasted 10 hours due to flight connection delays as he had used a commercial flights and had his bag misplaced in South Africa by an airliner but it eventually arrived in Malta four hours after he arrived in Malta.
The President however denied that his government plans to buy a presidential jet following reports of hassles he encountered while travelling on commercial airlines.
“Let me answer this nonsense once and for all. The government has no plans, no plans, no plans, period. Let’s leave this obsession about the presidential jet,” said the seemingly angry and irritated Mutharika when he was asked if the government has plans to buy another presidential jet.