Malawian businessperson Simbi Phiri has dismissed rumours that he is intending to buy a $7 million (about K5.2 billion) jet for President Peter Mutharika.
Phiri, who is executive chairperson of Khato Holdings, a civil engineering company based in South Africa, has said the rumour aims at defying the decorum of conducting business within government system.
In a statement released yesterday, Phiri said he has never spoken to anyone within or outside government of any intention to give out funds for the purchase of a presidential jet.
“The information in circulation on social media is total fabrication, malicious, slanderous and deliberately twisted to distract Khato Civils from our core functions notable of which is to pump water from Lake Malawi to the capital city Lilongwe.
“Currently, the focus of the company is on undertaking the water project to the best of our professional ability, nothing else. A consignment of equipment for the project is on the way into the country, a true indication that Khato Civils is preoccupied with this, nothing else,” reads part of the statement signed by Khato Civils media and public relations officer Taonga Botolo.
The businessperson has since appealed to Malawians not to drag him into “unfounded rumours that emanate from wishes of few citizens” as months ago he was also at a centre of another allegation that he had promised Nyasa Big Bullets Football Club a 60-seater coach.
When contacted yesterday, presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani declined to comment on the matter.
Since Sunday last week when President Mutharika travelled on a commercial flight to the 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, rumours have been making rounds on social media that Phiri is planning to buy the head of State a jet to ease his international travel logistics.
Phiri’s Khato Civils came into the limelight in October last year when it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with government to carry out three major projects to provide water to Lilongwe City from Salima, construction of toll gates and an international bus terminal in Lilongwe.
The three projects are valued at $1 billion (about K750 billion).
In the recent past the businessperson has also made several donations worth millions of kwacha to his home district of Mchinji.