Joyce Banda, Malawi President, Auctions Jet To Feed Poor

TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Felix Mponda A picture taken on May 14, 2012 shows Malawi Presidential Jet arriving at Kamuzu Interna
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Felix Mponda A picture taken on May 14, 2012 shows Malawi Presidential Jet arriving at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, from Mozambique where Malawi's President Joyce Banda went on an official state visit. Malawi's new leader, Africa's latest woman president, does things differently. Joyce Banda is slashing the bling and returning to basics in one of the world's most impoverished countries. Banda has announced the sale of the 13.3-million USD (11-million-euro) presidential jet controversially bought by her predecessor three years ago and 60 limousines driven by cabinet ministers and other top government officials. AFP PHOTO / AMOS GUMULIRA (Photo credit should read AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP/GettyImages)

In her latest effort to improve relations with donors, Malawi’s president has decided to auction off her 14-seat jet and use the funds to help the poor.

Joyce Banda, Africa's second female president, has never step foot onto the presidential jet that her predecessor bought –- a decadent purchase that outraged donors enough to cut back significantly on their funding, the BBC reports. Now, Banda is auctioning the jet, which cost about $13.3 million five years ago, and will use the proceeds to provide basic needs for her constituents who need it most.

Since inheriting an economy that “almost collapsed” when former President Bingu wa Mutharika suddenly died in April, Banda has been working to repair relations with key donors, including the International Monetary Fund, Business Day Live reports. She’s taken a number of austerity measures to improve the economy, but is also standing in solidarity with her citizens to show that she empathizes with their struggles.

For example, Banda cut her salary by 30 percent back in October, taking her income down to $42,000.

"It is a very low salary, but most Malawians are getting just as little as that,” Banda told Business Day Live. “So that’s fine, we have a nation to build. Perhaps the next president will get better than that."

Banda has advocated on behalf of the poor long before taking on the role of president.

In the 90s, Banda started the National Association for Business Women, an organization that lends start-up cash for small-scale businesses and encouraged the Hunger Project in New York to establish an outlet in Malawi, according to the Malawi government website. She also established the Joyce Banda Foundation, which provides a number of critical services, including education for orphans and support for female entrepreneurs.



Malawi President Joyce Banda