After being criticised for using chartered planes on his last international trips, President Peter Mutharika yesterday left Malawi for the African Union heads of State summit on a commercial flight.
Mutharika left Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe at 15.30pm on an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the heads of State meeting will take place from January 30 to 31.
For a similar meeting to Addis Ababa in July last year, Mutharika used a chartered plane, which sparked criticism from commentators and opposition politicians who faulted him for going against his own preaching about austerity measures.
In the 2016/17 National Budget, State Residences has a K5.1 billion allocation which includes K1.4 billion for Very Very Important Persons (VVIP) functions such as State visits and development meetings.
Speaking on departure, Mutharika said he proposed the theme of the AU meeting ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth’ and Malawi would be a case study.
He said the theme was unanimously adopted by AU heads of State during their meeting in January 2016.
“Since we proposed the theme and was unanimously adopted, Malawian youths will be a case study,” he said.
In relation to the theme, AU held the first-ever African Youth Conference on Unity and Development from January 22 to 25.
Also on the agenda is the election of the chairperson of the African Union Commission to replace the outgoing Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma of South Africa. n