Govt to buy very old helicopters

..expect to trade 4 helicopters with Paramount again

Senior officials from the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) have flown into South Africa to meet Paramount Group officials in another controversial barter trade that could lead to Malawi giving back 4 helicopters to the group.

Paramount came into limelight in 2013 when it got the Presidential jet which was bartered with gun boats and some helicopters.

The deal was widely criticised by Malawians.

In the same fashion, Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe announced recently government will procure two new helicopters for search and rescue to the tune of K150 billion.

However we found out that despite having 9 helicopters, two being the old Puma H215 which are due for service and can ably do search and rescue as they were used in Mozambique and 2015 floods, goverment want to procure very old helicopters.

“The helicopters they might get from there are very old. We need to be serious in our procurement,” another official told the Investigator Magazine.

The Tanzanian military pumas that were sent to Malawi are the newer models of what Malawi already has, a military aviation expert informed us.

The seven smaller helicopters from Paramount cannot be used in search and rescue operations and only two were flying when disaster cyclone Freedy struck.

According to several sources at MDF and Treasury, MDF entered an agreement with AirBus to service the helicopters and one year later the contract has not been honoured.

“Now they want to procure from Paramount again. The initial  deal included giving them 4 helicopters and we top us as we did with the jet,” said our source at Treasury who has seen confidential communication.

Since we sent questions, the MDF team has travelled to South Africa and is meeting different people though initially they were supposed to meet the Paramount to seal the deal for two helicopters.

Our sources say the team in South Africa briefly met Air Bus officials and so far most of the time were being entertained by Paramount officials.

“Why we can’t buy from manufacturers is what you should be asking yourselves. Even used planes they are better bought at manufacturers. The Boeing 737 300 Air Malawi bought came from Seattle in Washington. MDF and any government  entity wishing to buy such expensive things should go to manufacturers. That’s why we ended up giving money to a butchery for fertiliser” said Martin Phiri from Centre for Public Accountability.

Treasury and MDF have been asked for a comment we will update when we get a response.

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