The Joyce Banda administration has come under heavy criticism following revelations that President Banda and her bloated entourage are to blow about K308 million on the trip to the UN General Assembly in the US.
The president’s accompanying delegation is reportedly of 40 people among them party loyalists and traditional leaders, a move which has left most people wondering what role the chiefs will play at the meeting.
It remains the prerogative of the president to choose who to travel with as there is no prescription in the country’s constitution on how many people should accompany the president on foreign trips.
But leaders of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have condemned the inclusion of non staff members of the state house.
According to DPP spokesperson Nicholus Dausi, President Banda was expected to be exemplary on government’s expenditure control in line with the yet to be unveiled economic recovery plan.
“In as far as the delegation of 40 people is concerned is questionable. What will be a T/A, group village headman or party royalist do in America? Just go there basking in American or spending American richies? It’s unbelievable, they are just going there to spend our tax payers and our few resources, “ said Dausi.
UDF president Friday Jumbe stressed that the current situation cannot allow Malawi to be on honey moon spending money just like that.
“In where the economy in the country is now, perhaps it is advisable that the people accompany the president screened so that the entourage should be reduced so that the expenditure is also reduced.”
However, government spokesperson Moses Kunkuyu is expressing surprise on the allegations as government has not yet officially released the total amount of money spent on the trip.
Kunkuyu further described the inclusion of traditional leaders in the president trips as normal following their involvement in different social development programmes.
“Everyone understands or appreciates the roles that chiefs are playing in the initiatives of safe motherhood and hunger reduction. All these initiatives are being headed by the chiefs so I would not be surprised that the president has included them in the entourage,” said Kumkuyu.
This is a maiden trip for President Banda to the UN and she will address the assembly since ascending into power in April this year.