Government has trashed claims made by the former President Dr. Joyce Banda that she is failing to return to Malawi because she is being denied retirement benefits, including accommodation and security, saying the claims are insincere.
Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education Jappie Mhango said this in a statement made available to FaceofMalawi.
In a statement, Mhango said government has duly provided to Dr Joyce Banda the requirements of a retired President as stipulated by the President’s (Salaries and Benefits) Act, 1994.
Mhango said the continued stay of the former President in foreign countries has nothing to do with victimisation or anything to do with her retirement benefits.
“Upon retirement, Dr Joyce Banda received a tax free lump sum gratuity amounting to K30 million comprising K12 million and K18 million being gratuity in her capacity as former Vice President and former President, respectively.
“The payment was made on 29th November, 2014 and collected on 12th January, 2015. However, she has yet to start receiving her monthly pension. As it is stands, the pension for the former President is currently being processed by the Director of Pensions at the Accountant General’s Office,” reads in part the statement.
Turning to accommodation claims by Banda, Mhango said government allocated an official residence in Area 43, Lilongwe, as soon as she left Office which belong to Full Gospel Church of God, P.O. Box 3053, Lilongwe 3 and is being managed by Knight Frank but Banda denied to occupy the house, saying the house was of poor quality and did not meet the required standards.
“As a result, on 12th May, 2015 the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development received a fresh instructions from the Office of the President and Cabinet to terminate the Tenancy Agreement, identify and allocate a new house to the former President.
The lease agreement was terminated on 30th August, 2015 and identification exercise of new houses happened in August 2015. The Retired Chief Justice Mr. Richard Banda Sc. was shown the houses on behalf of his wife,” said Mhango.
Mhango said five houses which belonged to Broll Malawi, Fred and Ted Estate Agents, Ching’onga Estate Agents, Castles and Weathers and Auction Holdings Group were offered to her but all were rejected by Banda.
“Following these developments, it was decided that the best approach would be for the former President to identify the house and notify the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development to assess and rent. The Ministry is still waiting to hear from the former President’s office if a house suiting her taste has been found,” said Mhango.
On security, Mhango said a former president is entitled one Head Guard (Personal Bodyguard) and 6 Security Guards.
“Government has duly compiled with requirement by providing seven Police Security Officers to the former President namely; 1 Senior Superintendent, 1 Inspector (Deputy Head) and 5 Sergeants,” said Mhango.
Meanwhile Mhango has urged Banda to come back so that she can assist in the identification of a house of her choice so that the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development can then process the lease requirements.