K5 billion blown on business class travel


From East to West, North or South public officers keep on cascading in the sky, globetrotting with reckless abandon while Malawi is still struggling economically and despite the fact that Parliament passed a motion to prevent all public officers from travelling business class.

Nonetheless, the practice continues unabated.

A Malawi News investigation shows that since Parliament adopted the resolution in April 2016, government has failed to implement it.


Nkhotakota South East MP Everson Makowa Mwale (Malawi Congress Party) in 2016 moved the motion which was welcomed by almost both sides of the 193 member House, restricting the country’s public officers to use economy class when travelling outside Malawi as a cost-cutting measure.

In the motion, Makowa said about K5 billion that could have been used to buy medical supplies or supply portable water, among others, was being wasted on top-class travel by public servants.

However, fast forward to 2017, government has lost almost K8 billion due to public servants that fly business class.


Sources in the Office of the President and Cabinet – OPC have said it is very difficult for government to implement the motion that was passed in Parliament as it is yet to come up with a policy on the issue.

“There is always a missing link between Parliament and OPC because almost all the motions that have been passed in Parliament are not implemented by the executive,” the source said.

If government was to adhere to and implement the Makowa motion, its officials would not have used airlines’ business class with priority boarding, access to private departure lounge at airports, spacious leg room, high quality food and beverages while travelling on tax payers’ money.

The business class ticket costs three or four times the cost of the economy class.

Malawi News understands that if 100 public servants travel using South African Airways, it would cost 839,500 South African Rand (which is roughly MK44,493,500 , using a rate of 53 Malawi Kwacha) – thrice the amount that would have been incurred when covering the same distance economy class at 313,500 South African Rand (approximately MK16,615,500).

If a Malawian Airlines flight to Johannesburg, South Africa, was booked today to fly a government official on economy class, it would cost about K326, 490 while a business class ticket for the same trip would cost about K987, 415.

This revelation comes in the wake of a directive from the government of Zambia, just across the border and whose economy is far much better than Malawi’s, forbidding all public servants and politicians from flying business class.

When contacted, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, while expressing serious concerns about the expenditure, said he will critically look into the matter.

The minister apparently wondered why journalists focus too much on politicians’ expenditures, arguing heads of parastatals, who are receiving huge amounts in salaries, travel first class constantly when going outside the country.

There are about 70 parastatals in the country and of all the top officials also travel in business class.

Apart from principal secretaries and chief directors, other government officials who travel business class include presidential advisers.

The Malawi government would save up to K5 billion (about $7.3million) in public funds if its officials travelled in economy class, which is cheaper.

The money saved could be used for pressing social issues such as buying drugs in hospitals and provision of clean, potable water.

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