The Ministry of Defence has said it does not know if some of the proceeds of the controversial sale of the presidential jet last year were used to buy military equipment as the Joyce Banda era Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) had explained to the nation.
This was learnt when the ministry’s officials appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament to respond to Treasury minutes on the report of the committee following its consideration of the Auditor General’s report for the years ended 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Responding to a question from Lilongwe Central MP Lobin Lowe on whether Malawi Defence Force (MDF), through its parent ministry, benefitted from the sale of the jet, colonel Augustine Masamba said the ministry was not informed where the money came from.
In April this year, government disclosed that military equipment supplier Paramount Group misled the Malawi Government by bidding for the plane for $14 million through its subsidiary company, Bohnox Enterprises, knowing they would not pay Malawi.
Government owed Paramount Group millions of dollars in payment for military equipment, which it failed to pay, according to the then minister of Finance Maxwell Mkwezalamba.
Masamba said while MDF was in the process of procuring equipment and weapons for peacekeeping missions, the money came from government.
“Whether this funding came from the sale of the jet or elsewhere, the ministry was not informed. The presidential jet was the property of Malawi Government, but it was not under the charge of the MDF and the Executive had a way of keeping or disposing of the asset,” Masamba said.
Since the explanation on what happened during the sale of the jet, details remain murky on whether there was due diligence by OPC, which was tasked with the disposal of the jet.