Saturday 16 December 2017

Arms group providing jet for Malawi president

Malawian Vice-President Joyce Banda
Malawian Vice-President Joyce Banda

Aislinn Laing, Johannesburg

A jet sold by Joyce Banda, the Malawian president, last year, attracting praise from key donors, is believed to have been bought by a controversial African arms group and she is now using it without charge, it can be disclosed.

The Dassault Falcon 900EX was bought by Bohnox Enterprises, a firm registered in the British Virgin Islands, and sent to South Africa, where it is loaned to VIPs by the jet company Fortune Air.

Both companies are linked to Paramount Group, Africa's largest private defence and aerospace firm, which has already signed deals with the Malawian government for agriculture, fuel and military contracts through a network of investment firms.

Reports in Malawi suggest that since the plane was sold, Mrs Banda has used it regularly to travel to events around the continent. The trips formed part of 20 private plane flights she took in just three months at the end of last year, it was said.

Asked who paid for the use of the jets, her spokesman said it was "well-wishers" who "have told us not to disclose their identities".

Mrs Banda is currently dealing with a major scandal over corrupt procurement deals made by government departments, leading foreign donors, including Britain, to suspend direct aid that had accounted for 40pc of the impoverished country's budget.

When Mrs Banda announced the sale of 60 Mercedes limousines and the presidential jet in 2012 she was praised.

But despite claiming to have also slashed her government's travel budget, Mrs Banda has raised eyebrows by continuing to travel by private plane. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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