The ‘Jetgate’ saga seems to be attracting comments everyday from the public with the current being Muslim leaders who have asked the government to come out in the open and give proper information on how it used the money of Presidential Jet which was sold few months ago.
Sheikh Tariq Chimambi of Kanjedza Mosque said the selling of the Jet was not wrong idea in the first place but what he fails to understand is how the money was used and to which account it was deposited.
“The way government has done on this issue, it just shows that they are telling Malawians the truth and the selling of the Jet hasn’t benefited us in any way,” he said.
Chimambi therefore said he joins the rest of the concerned Malawians that the government should take back the Jet because people are not convinced with the statements the government is giving.
Former Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) Chairman for Blantyre District Sheikh Jafar Kawinga also claims that the justice was not done to Malawians because to his understanding the jet was sold to save money which has been used in maintaining it.
“However, when the Jet was sold the government did not come back to the owners of the property who are Malawians and explain how they have done with the money. Instead, they keep on giving us statements which are not convincing.
“What the government must know is that being a public property, people are obliged to know the process how the money was used,” said Kawinga who is also Director for Muslim Forum for Peace and Democracy (MUSFORD).
Speaking on his personal capacity, Sheikh Ahmed Chienda of Limbe Islamic Information Bureau said the selling of the Jet was not wrong but government’s response is not convincing as the country still faces acute shortage of drugs and food – which was said it could be minimised if the Jet was sold.
“We have freedom to ask because the Jet was bought with money which people pay tax. So government is supposed to be accountable to people and give them proper information on issues that affect them,” he said.
The Dr Joyce Banda’s administration has been under intense pressure from the civil society, legal experts and the public on how it spent the proceeds from the Presidential jet sale.
However, Minister of Finance Maxwell Mkwezalamba told reporters in Lilongwe early this month that the government sold the jet to Bohnox Enterprise Limited at US$15 million.
Mkwezalamba said government used the $15million to pay-off the $19.2million military arms debt, which the Government of Malawi owed Paramount Group of Companies.
He confirmed that the money never passed through the treasury or Reserve Bank of Malawi to account number 1, because, as he puts it, the company which bought the jet, Bohnox, is a subsidiary of Paramount Group of companies and it deposited the jet proceeds straight into its mother company.
The Finance Minister added that because they had to use some of the proceeds for the purchase of maize and medicines, they made re-allocations from the Ministry of Defence to Agriculture ($3million) and to Health ($3.8million).
However, his statements contradicts that of President Joyce Banda, who on the previous day (Tuesday) told journalist that part of the jet proceeds were used to buy maize.
The government through its spokesperson Brown Mpinganjira had also been telling the nation that Capital Hill had apportioned the US$15 million realized from the jet sale towards the purchase of drugs, Military Equipment, and the Farm Input Subsidy Programme.