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Kamlepo Kalua accuses Peter Mutharika of extravagance

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President Peter Mutharika’s government bought a special vehicle for his convoy called motorhome at K150 million at a time Malawi’s economy is failing to provide basic needs to ordinary citizens, The Daily Times has learnt.

A motorhome is a vehicle fitted with recreational facilities such as a kitchenette, washroom, sitting room and beds.

Opposition Member of Parliament for the Rumphi East Constituency, Kamlepo Kalua, disclosed on Times Television’s Point Blank Programme, saying a Cabinet minister confided in him that government acquired the vehicle at a cost of K150 million.

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According to Kalua, although Mutharika deserves the motorhome, buying it when the country is facing economic challenges is bad timing.

However, Presidential Press Secretary, Gerald Viola, played down the matter, saying the vehicle was bought in July 2014 at a cost of K65 million.

He said government bought the new motorhome because the old one was not functioning properly.

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“The motorhome has been functioning since 2014 July and the recommendation was made by the Director of State Residences and proposed to the Treasury and, once it was approved, that’s when they proceeded to purchase the motorhome,” explained Viola.

However, Minister of Information, Jappie Mhango, contradicted Viola, saying the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government came into power in May 2014 and there was no way they could have bought the vehicle in July the same year.

“Government did not purchase any vehicle. We have been in government for a year and some months but we have not yet purchased any motorhome for the President,” he said.

Mhango then asked Kalua to provide documents to prove that he is saying the truth.

Kalua, however, said in the programme: “I don’t have issues with the President purchasing the motorhome, but considering the economic challenges this country is facing, it is bad timing as we don’t have maize in Admarc, electricity [tariffs] will [go up] in the coming year. That money could have been used to help Escom to boost power generation.”

However, some commentors say it is laughable that Mutharika bought a motorhome for his motorcade instead of an ambulance as recommended by the special commission that was set up to investigate former president Bingu wa Mutharika’s death in April 2012.

“The Commission recommends that there is need for a state-of-the-art Presidential Ambulance on the Presidential convoy to replace the ambulance in use at the time of the death of the President which, in the view of the Commission, did not have the necessary emergency equipment and was not as spacious as to be suitable for the conduct of some medical procedures, such as CPR,” the commission said in its report.

But Viola said the issue of the ambulance has not yet been implemented and, therefore, it should not be linked to the motorhome.

Commenting on the issue, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Executive Director, Timothy Mtambo, condemned government for its action, saying it should learn to implement what it says as most of the times its words do not match its actions.

“We expect the government to be in the forefront to see to it that they are helping Malawians. What they did here is insensitive. We respect them as our leaders but they should desist from spending money which would have been used in the hospitals where there are no drugs,” he said.

Mtambo further said government should demonstrate that it really cares for its people as some citizens are currently suffering because there is no food in some parts of the country.

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