Malawi’s new president, Joyce Banda, has dumped her predecessor’s presidential jet and fleet of luxury cars, in yet another move that sets Banda apart from the nation’s past administration.
Banda, who came into power in April following the death of late President Bingu Wa Mutharika, has taken several steps to distinguish her leadership and administrative style from that of Malawi’s last head.
The Malawi president, who recently announced plans to overturn the country’s ban on homosexuality, has said she plans to sell or lease the impoverished country’s £8.4m presidential jet and fleet of 60 Mercedes government cars, the UK Guardian reported.
According to the report, the issue of the Dassault Falcon 900EX jet was raised during a private meeting between Banda and Andrew Mitchell, international development secretary for the nation’s biggest aid donor, Britain.
Mitchell said: “At a time of austerity in both Britain and Malawi, president Banda’s decision to sell or lease the presidential jet and expensive fleet of cars sends an enormously encouraging signal to British taxpayers and the international community about the seriousness president Banda is applying to overturn bad decisions taken under the previous government.
“The proceeds can be used to provide basic services to Malawi’s poorest people who urgently need help following the vital devaluation of the currency.”
Last month Banda was quoted in local media saying the cabinet would discuss the future of the jet, explaining that she had no problems “offloading it as I can well use private airliners; I am already used to hitchhiking”, the Guardian wrote.
Mutharika had purchased the jet in 2009, claiming it was less expensive than leasing a plane whenever he had to travel, however it was condemned by many as wasteful spending in the face of so much need in Malawi.
The late president was also criticized for purchasing a 58-room mansion and granting a salary to his wife on the impoverished country’s budget.
After Mutharika demise due to a heart attack, Banda fought against his allies to secure control of the country and has since appointed a new cabinet, as well as sacking Mutharika’s police chief and restoring the country’s independence flag.
Her efforts have endeared her to the west. Mitchell, during his four-day visit, said the Bank of England will work with the Reserve Bank of Malawi to help it cope with the impact of slashing the value of the local currency, the kwacha, by one third earlier this month on the advice of the IMF, according to the Guaradian.
The minister said: “I am also delighted to be in Malawi to relaunch Britain’s development partnership with the new president. Britain is leading the international community by providing urgent balance of payments support and technical assistance to Malawi through the Bank of England.”
Britain had earlier pledged £20m to help stabilise the Malawian economy and an additional £10m for the country’s health system.