President Joyce Banda has promised Malawians that her Cabinet ministers will today give a comprehensive report on the sale of the presidential jet and how the proceeds were used following reports that Treasury never received the money.
Speaking when she addressed a news conference at the Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Tuesday, the President said she was informed that the proceeds of the sale of the jet, sold to Bohnox Limited for $15 million, would be used to buy maize, fertiliser for the Farm Input Loan Programme (Filp) and military equipment for peacekeeping.
But beyond that, the President said she had no more information and had given former secretary to the Treasury Randson Mwadiwa, who she suspected of leaking information to the press, the task of compiling a report on the sale.
“You will get answers from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Defence and the Attorney General on how the jet was sold. Whatever they tell you will be factual. I can’t speak for them and I am not responsible for everything. That’s not how government works,” said Banda when The Nation asked her to clear the air with Malawians on the confusion surrounding the sale of the presidential jet.
In response, Mwadiwa said Minister of Finance Maxwell Mkwezalamba Tuesday morning called for a meeting with the Chief Secretary to the Government Hawa Ndilowe, Attorney General Anthony Kamanga, Deputy Minister of Finance Cornelius Mwalwanda and Minister of Defence Ken Kandodo to explain how government used the money from the sale of the jet.
Said Mwadiwa: “We have compiled a statement and we will call for a press conference tomorrow [Wednesday] to explain how the jet money was used.”
In the past weeks, our sister newspaper Nation on Sunday reported that proceeds from the sale of the jet did not reach government coffers as expected and no money from the sale was used to buy drugs or maize as Minister of Information and Civic Education Brown Mpinganjira informed the nation last week.
Banda also dismissed calls for her to disclose names of companies and individuals who siphoned public funds estimated at K13 billion between April and September last year as established by a forensic audit report undertaken by a British firm, Baker Tilly.
She claimed she was not aware of the contents of the report, but said the British firm would be recalled to explain to Parliament.
In the same vein, Banda said she wanted the forensic audit report to be tabled in Parliament alongside a report of an audit which took place in 2010 before her government came into power. The report revealed that K92 billion was misused.
She also challenged the taxpayer-funded Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), which has renewed calls for her to declare her assets in the face of the forensic audit revelations, saying her predecessors Bakili Muluzi and the late Bingu wa Mutharika should also make public what they declared before and what they amassed during their terms of office.
During the briefing, Minister of Health Catherine Gotani Hara blamed the problems at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) on the hospital’s management.
KCH was in the news last week after bodies decomposed in a mortuary following a breakdown of cold rooms. This week, the hospital has also been reported to have faulty elevators that are rendering mobility among patients difficult in the three-storey building.
Coincidentally, KCH director Dr Noordin Alide has since been moved to a unit in the Ministry of Health, sources confirmed on Monday.