News / Africa

Jet Sale Puts Malawi's Government Under Scrutiny

FILE - Malawi's President Joyce Banda attends a seminar on security in Abuja, Nigeria, Feb. 27, 2014.
FILE - Malawi's President Joyce Banda attends a seminar on security in Abuja, Nigeria, Feb. 27, 2014.
Lameck Masina
The government of Malawi President Joyce Banda is facing pressure to reveal documents related to proceeds from the sale of a presidential jet to British Virgin Islands company Bohnox Enterprises. 

The money from the $15 million transaction was to be used to buy maize and medicine for the country. Reports, however, are surfacing that the money is either missing or has been used to offset a military arms debt. 

Malawians started to ask about the money after a local newspaper recently published a story on the issue. The story quoted sources in the Treasury as saying they could not trace how the funds were used because they were not deposited into the government’s consolidated account known as Account Number One.  

Several government authorities say the money was used for its intended purpose.

President Banda maintained her earlier stance during a recent press conference in the capital, Lilongwe.  

“I was the one who said, ‘Let’s sell the jet,’ but I didn’t do it alone," she explained. "I presented the issue before the Cabinet meeting where we agreed that we should use the money for buying maize. We also agreed to buy military equipment for the peacekeeping mission in DRC, buying medicine and contributing to the farm input subsidy program.”

When pressed on the matter, Finance Minister Maxwell Mkwezalamba said the money did not really go into the Treasury, but was used to offset a military arms debt, which the government owed to private defense firm Paramount Group, whose subsidiary is Bohnox.

“Instead of them giving us the $15 million for the presidential jet, we requested Bohnox, given their association with Paramount, to basically pay Paramount that amount," the finanace minister said. "So that money never came.”

Information Minister Brown Mpinganjira previously told reporters that the money was used to buy maize and military equipment and that some of it was used to finance the farm input subsidy program.     

The contradictions have raised suspicion among members of the general public, including non-government organizations (NGOs) and opposition politicians who think the money may have been embezzled.

Legal experts also have argued that by bartering, the government contravened section 172 of the Malawi Constitution, which does not allow expenditures of government revenue before it is deposited in the consolidated account.

Jessie Kabwila is the spokesperson for the leading opposition party in parliament, Malawi Congress Party.  She says the component of trading off does not hold water because the Public Financial Management Act does not allow barter as a form of trade.

She says that for claims of funding the United Nations Peace Keeping Mission to be viable, the government should produce an invoice claiming the refund of the money from the U.N. and another transaction from the U.N. acknowledging the same to the Malawi government.

A local rights NGO, Malawi Watch, has written the Attorney General and Minister of Information demanding the government supply documents and other proof relating to how the jet proceeds were utilized.
 
“Malawians are given very contradictory information which is forcing various stakeholders, including the opposition, to build a mountain on the same," said Billy Banda, the group's executive director. "And owing to that, we thought it would be much more prudent to request the Ministry of Information and the attorney general to provide transactions that followed the procurement of drugs, equipment for peacekeeping, and maize.”

Mkwezalamba said it is doubtful the government can provide any information pertaining to the sale of the jet.

“We’ve been very open and transparent in terms of how this transaction was conducted. I am a bit surprised that even with all detailed information there is a need for more to be given," he said. "The documentation would be there but can we share it with you?  I doubt it.”

Defense Minister Ken Kadondo told local daily newspaper The Nation that the government cannot release documents concerning the purchase of military equipment because they are classified.  

Representatives of NGOs under the Grand Coalition for the Defense of Democracy and Constitution are threatening to hold a nationwide demonstration should the government fail to produce documents of the use of the proceeds from the jet sale.

The group petitioned Banda following demonstrations in Blantyre last month. Among other issues, the petition calls for an immediate meeting of parliament to deliberate findings of the preliminary forensic audit report and the sale of the jet.

The president has yet to respond to their petition, although a 14-day ultimatum elapsed a week ago.

You May Like

Forest Stands Between Nigeria, Victory Over Boko Haram

Military takes back nearly all towns, villages in northeast, except for massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states More

IS Recruiting Stokes Fears for Parents in Georgia

Chechens are notable part of Islamic State's gains in Syria and Iraq, and analysts fear what might happen if those fighters return to Caucasus More

Yarmouk Camp Becomes Distant Memory for Palestinian Diaspora

Once thriving capital of Palestinian diaspora, after siege by Syrian government forces and Islamic State group, camp becomes 'deepest circle of hell' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: nyambose from: mzuzu
March 19, 2014 1:34 PM
Let's be transparent on everything that we do coz its taxi payers money

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'i
X
Sharon Behn
April 21, 2015 9:18 PM
A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten. Sharon Behn reports on the politics of the word genocide on the 100th anniversary of the events.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video German Program Helps Migrants Overcome Traumatic Experience at Sea

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia risk life and limb to reach safety in Europe. Those who have made it to European shores are traumatized by the experience. A program in Germany helps survivors overcome the trauma by giving a new perspective to their catastrophic experience. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs