Lilongwe - Malawian President Peter Mutharika has come under fierce criticism for chartering a plane to receive a personal honorary degree, as his country suffers from poverty, food shortages and a dwindling economy, Nyasa Times reports.
Analysts and opposition leaders lambasted Mutharika, saying his ruling Democratic Progressive Party had failed the economy.
Mutharika recently chartered a South African plane to Ethiopia where he received a doctorate. Mustafa Hussein, lecturer at University of Malawi's Chancellor College, described the president's actions as regrettable.
"The country is going through turbulent economic times and for the president to charter a plane to get a personal degree at the university that was honouring him for his past career, goes against the same spirit of austerity which he always tells us," said Hussein.
Hussein argued that, since Ethiopia was only four hours away, it was unnecessary for Mutharika to charter a plane.
Information Minister Patricia Kaliati said that she was unaware of the State House chartering a plane for the president, but described the criticism leveled at him as jealousy.
This came a few weeks after the southern African country's Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe insisted that Mutharika could not travel economy class, despite a motion that prevented government officials from flying in business class.
Gondwe said that the motion did not affect the head of state, insinuating that a directive to have Mutharika travel economy class was absurd.
Due to the ailing state of Malawi's economy, Mutharika has been forced to utilise passenger planes in recent times, with his bag having gone missing during one of his international trips.
- News24 Nigeria