After high heat levels on the K308 million (about $1.1m) expenditure on the UN trip, State House looked to the past for defence, saying the current expenditure is better than what late Bingu wa Mutharika could blow.

The heat levels have now only turned higher with Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) boss John Kapito saying it is high time government stopped using people like Presidential Press Secretary Steven Nhlane because they are only irritating Malawians.

“I think these people are not getting what we are saying we are not saying a figure that is less than Bingu’s is better, and we are saying that we need to cut the extravagance. Don’t use Bingu to justify your abuse of resources,” charged Kapito.

Nhlane’s remarks also irked Nicholas Dausi who was at a funeral and could not ably comment and only managed to say using late Mutharika as a buffer and a face-saver is ‘unfair, unfortunate and bad.’

Kapito is not alone in his cry. Nation on Sunday’s latest survey asked Malawians whether Joyce Banda’s huge expenditure can ever be justified; 60 percent of the people sampled shrieked out a big no.

“Government cannot afford to be extravagant at this time when everyone is tightening their belts. The UN gives Malawi five free tickets and accommodation, you can add maybe five more but to get people who will do nothing at the UN is not justifiable,” said Kapito.

He also trashed the gesture by the President and Vice President of reducing their perks by 30 percent in solidarity with the economic recovery song. Kapito said Malawians cannot take ‘little oil on the lips’ and expect them to believe in the symbolism.

“When we talk about reducing expenditure, we do not mean salary, we know they will earn the money they have given up elsewhere in allowances. What we want is for government to cut on the internal and external travel, to reduce the staff in the two high offices and to reduce the entourage size.

How would you justify a minister getting 2500 litres of fuel in this time? How do you justify ministers driving Mercedes and pocketing funny allowances and travelling business class?” said Kapito.

He said late Mutharika can never be used to justify anything today because what he was doing was also wrong and thus trying to use two wrongs to make a right is being ridiculous.

Nhlane justified the expenditure saying it is the lowest Malawi has spent on recent US/UN trips. He said the trip is necessary because President Banda will woo investors and world leaders who are essential elements in Malawi’s economic recovery.

Nhlane said Bingu could blow over K700 million (about $2.3m) and would include party leaders on his entourage before adding a month-long vacation to the expenditure.

“Banda has also taken with her four chiefs. These chiefs have gone there in their other capacities such as members of the Presidential Initiative on Poverty Reduction…” he said.

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