A luxury plane that initially cost the South African country $22 million and an added $300,000 per year to maintain was auctioned to fend off an impending food shortage. The jet was sold for $15 million to Bohnox Enterprise Ltd., a company based on the Virgin Islands, and will rescue many Malawi citizens on the verge of hunger. The crisis is due to changes in weather and rising prices of food, as well as the worst harvest the maize-exporting country has seen in years.

This year, it is expected that more than a million people (about 10 percent of the nation) will experience food shortages. But President Joyce Banda is not one to stand idly by as her citizens suffer. According to Al-Jazeera:

Former colonial power Britain, Malawi’s main bilateral donor, reduced its aid to Malawi by $4.7m after the 14-passenger aircraft was purchased [by Banda’s predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika].

Mutharika, who died last year from heart attack, often defended the buying of the jet, saying it was cheap to run and a status symbol for the poor southern African nation.

In July, the United Kingdom said it would provide Malawi with $20m to alleviate the “looming food crisis” in southern Africa.

Lynne Featherstone, the UK’s international development minister, said the funds would “save countless lives”….

Since taking office, Banda has introduced a host of cost-cutting measures and uses commercial airlines to travel outside the country.

Realizing malnutrition threatens her country, Banda has put her nation’s needs before status symbols used to feign power and wealth, making necessary cuts to government funds spent on luxuries. It’s the kind of decision world leaders should make, but rarely do.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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