Banda announced the decision to sell the $13.3-million (11-million-euro) aircraft was “in line with my vision for economic recovery and also to demonstrate to Malawians that I am prepared to make sacrifices alongside them as they grapple with the effects of the … devaluation of (national currency) the kwacha.”
“The cabinet has agreed that we must sell the presidential jet. I don’t even know why we need one,” she was quoted as saying from London by the state-run Malawi News Agency.
Banda, 69, was addressing the Royal African Society and Britain’s All Party Parliamentary Group after attending the diamond jubilee of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
The no-nonsense president, who prefers to be called Mrs Banda, succeeded late president Bingu wa Mutharika after he died from a heart attack begin April.
Since taking over, she has launched a number of reforms to lure back international donors, whose funds her government depends on.
These include a national austerity drive and floating the national currency against the dollar to end a shortage of foreign currency that has left Malawi unable to import enough fuel to keep the nation running.
Part of the cost-cutting schemes is getting rid of luxury vehicles and the plane, symbols of power and status in this poor nation where nearly 40 percent of the 13 million people scrape by on less than a dollar a day.
Banda has drawn up an economic strategy to “establish an economic recovery programme to deal with current challenges of economic governance and help stabilise the economy.”
This includes developing a more diversified and productive economic model which will reinstate traditional drivers of growth that could generate foreign exchange.