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Obsession with jet travel

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Malawi President Peter Mutharika is considering buying a presidential jet once the economy picks up, a presidential aide has revealed to us.

The aide, presidential press secretary Gerald Viola, revealed this in an exclusive interview with Times TV’s Brian Banda which will air tonight.

Viola claimed the President wants to buy the jet because Malawi is the only country in Africa that does not own such an executive aero plane.

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But we could not independently verify the veracity of this claim.

Viola said the President cannot buy the jet at the moment because of poor economic conditions.

“But if we were having a better economy the best way to go was to buy a presidential jet,” said Viola.

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This has not gone down well with the opposition political parties and civil society organisations who wondered why the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is so obsessed with presidential jets

In 2009 former president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, the elder brother to the current leader, purchased an extravagant jet partly using United Kingdom government aid and it consequently withdrew budgetary support.

Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and Development spokesperson, Nations Msowoya, said he was not aware of such plans.

“The Jet belongs to the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) and, therefore, I cannot know what they are planning about [sic] that,” he said.

Viola insisted that when this country was ruled by the country’s first President Hastings Kamuzu Banda there were two jets.

“One was being used by Dr. Banda; the other was being used by the party’s women league members, popularly known as his Mbumba, and were being flown to UK and they even went to Israel to see the Garden of Eden including going to the US,” he said.

Viola, who claim that he knows history related to the issue of the presidential planes, said when President Bakili Muluzi came into power those planes vanished and he, therefore, started hiring planes.

“When Bingu came in it was expensive to hire a jet or a plane and the only thing he did was to purchase a Malawi jet at US$22 million; them came Dr. Joyce Banda and sold the jet,” he said.

Viola said the current President has been asking Malawians to demand where that jet went, how much money was accrued after it was sold and what the money been used for.

“It’s only Malawi in whole Africa that does not have pride or legacy to claim that this is our personal jet. Had it been it was not sold this Mutharika should not have been spending money by hiring another jet,” he said

Commenting on the matter, spokesperson for People’s Party (PP), Kenneth Msonda, said if President Mutharika was indeed contemplating buying a plane it’s unfortunate and it would be up to the Malawians to decide.

“There is a class of people who have an illusion that they have the monopoly of wisdom and they think they know everything when they don’t know anything,” he said.

“These people make all of us dance to their tune and are very few but confusing this country. They take Malawians for granted and make people follow them all the time,” he added.

Timothy Mtambo, the executive director for the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, said there are a lot of priority areas to be addressed when the economy picks up.

“To be frank this obsession with the presidential jet should not even be arising considering the challenges this country is going through. I think Viola and the team should be telling us that if the economy picks up they will prioritise the challenges in the health sector, education sector and that they will bring sustainable programmes in agriculture to be able to address the hunger problem which is eating poor Malawians,” he said.

Mtambo said the government should tell Malawians how it would create jobs for the youth who have no hope for their future after completing their tertiary studies.

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