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.
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Malawian President Joyce Banda attends on August 18, 2012, the closing ceremony of the 32nd Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit at the Joaquim Chissano Conference Centrer in Maputo. (SAKUTIN/AFP/GettyImages)
Malawian President Joyce Banda (R) shakes hands with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete on August 18, 2012, during the closing ceremony of the 32nd Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit at the Joaquim Chissano Conference Centrer in Maputo. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/GettyImages)
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is welcomed by Malawi's President Joyce Banda at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, on September 10, 2012. (AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP/GettyImages)
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, right, meets with Malawi President Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda, for the 67th session of the General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/David Karp)
Malawi President Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Cherie Blair, third left, wife of the former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair, joins African first ladies Hadidja Aboubakar Ikililou Dhoinine, of Comoros, Salma Kikwete, of Tanzania, Callista Mutharika, former first lady of Malawi, Chantal Yayi, of Benin, and Hajiya Amina Namadi Sambo, wife of Nigerian vice president, left to right, at the RAND African First Ladies Initiative, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, in New York. (Diane Bondareff/AP Images for RAND Corporation)