Malawi government, through the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), has finally advertised the sale of the presidential jet through an open tender.
The advertisement to dispose of the controversial jet comes barely two weeks after the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) presented its seven-point petition to government in which, among other things, it demanded the sale of the jet.
The jet controversy was also earlier raised by other stakeholders, notably political parties in and outside Malawi Parliament.
OPC officials said the call for the sale offer, as carried in the Malawi media on Monday, has also been put in international media through Malawi’s missions abroad.
“The Malawi Government had decided that the jet should be disposed of ‘on as is basis’ to an interested individual or firm,” reads part of the advertisement which also gives specifications of the Dassault Falcon 900EX executive jet.
Potential buyers have been given up to February 20 2013 to deposit their bids through the chairperson of the internal procurement committee (IPC) at OPC in Lilongwe.
According to the advertisement, signed by deputy principal secretary responsible for administration in OPC Clement Chinthu-Phiri, the jet, was manufactured in 1998 by the Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation of France and bought by Malawi Government for use by the President in 2009.
The advertisement says the customised three-engine 14-seater jet, which underwent a 2C inspection in 2011, is in perfect flying condition and can fly a range of 4 500 nautical miles (about 8 380 kilometres) non-stop. One nautical mile is equivalent to 1.85200 kilometres whereas a 2C inspection is an extensive check of individual systems and components of an aircraft for serviceability and function.
Minister of Information and Civic Education Moses Kunkuyu, who is also the official government spokesperson, said although he did not have details about the advertisement, it might be possible that the call has been made both locally and internationally.
The presidential jet was bought by the late president Bingu wa Mutharika at about $22.4 million (about K7.8 billion at the current rate) with projected maintenance and insurance annual cost of $300 000 (about K105 million at the current rate).
All along, there have been different views on whether the country should sell the jet or not. It was at the centre of controversy during the Mutharika administration and in the July 20 2011 20-point petition, civil society organisations demanded that the jet be sold.
In its January 17 2013 petition, Cama also repeated the call to sell the jet.
When she ascended to the presidency after Mutharika’s death last April, Banda said she would either sell or lease the jet.
Banda is on record as having told www.guardian.co.uk: “The proceeds [from the sale] can be used to provide basic services to Malawi’s poorest people who urgently need help following the vital devaluation of the currency.”