By Patseni Mauka
Sometime back, Malawi had a thriving Post Office Savings Bank. Many people used to bank with Post Office mainly because of its availability in most areas including rural. That was the time when many working people had a ‘bank book’. I remembered this because the bank book was a constant source of fights between relatives of a deceased husband and a surviving wife. The relatives would demand this book believing that the deceased husband left some money in a bank account.
In those days and I believe that’s the case until now, many people survived hand to mouth and didn’t keep significant money in accounts. Many people didn’t have any savings. As a result, those that were so determined to get the deceased relative’s bank book would be so disappointed to realize, after getting the book, that their relative died without any money. They would then go on to grab any household items from the surviving wife and kids, piling more misery on a family whose breadwinner was the dead father. That’s how cruel people were before a sensitization campaign against property grabbing minimized such occurrences.
I am narrating this story because I believe President Peter Mutharika, his party the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), DPP politician-cum-business man Leston Mulli and DPP legal adviser who is also the current Malawi Attorney General, Charles Mhango are now acting like property grabbers who want to rip Malawi off by conniving to bring up billions of Kwachas claims against an already dead Malawi treasury. These people are now employing mafia tactics to steal billions of tax payer’s money. Now that they know their days in government are numbered, they have embarked on a stealing spree that is unprecedented in Malawi.
President Peter Mutharika is the leader of DPP, Leston Mulli is a DPP member and one of the financiers of DPP. Attorney General Charles Mhango is a DPP member and serves as its legal adviser. As DPP members, they have one common goal; to ensure that DPP continues ruling and of course continue getting stinking rich…
To continue ruling, they need to win the next elections. One of the necessary things they need to win an election is have enough money for campaign. If they lose an election, they will also need money, lots of it, because they will no longer have access to treasury. It is only a fool who would think that Leston Mulli, who just a few days ago was dancing lewdly with a young lady at Mlakho wa lomwe ceremony attended by President Mutharika would be claiming billions of Kwachas from government without the approval of the President.
Just six months ago, Attorney General Charles Mhango authorized payment of K3.1 billion compensation to Leston Mulli-owned firms. Mulli, through Sunrise Pharmaceuticals Limited and Chombe Foods Limited, sued government and claimed K3.1 billion as damages for losses during the July 20 2011 demonstrations in which 21 people were killed. The High court awarded him the money in a default judgement.
Dubiously, the Attorney General authorized the payment when his office was challenging the claims in the Supreme Court of Appeal. The interest of the attorney general should be to vigorously protect government against such hefty claims for payment. There was a chance that the government would have succeeded with the appeal at the Supreme Court. By not protecting the government, Mhango showed that he has no interest of Malawi at heart. Any reasonable person would suggest that President Mutharika, the Attorney General and Mulli benefited from the payment. Otherwise, who in their right mind would just authorize such a huge amount of money without a fight?
The dubious payment was done when government is failing to collect K4.9 billion in loans that Mulli-owned companies obtained from the defunct State-controlled Malawi Savings Bank (MSB). Mulli is the largest beneficiary of the K6 billion toxic loans government took over from MSB, a then wholly State-owned commercial bank, sold in July 2015 to FDH Financial Holdings Limited. Mulli obtained K4.9 billion from the bank while other firms owed over K660 million. It’s reported that three years after government set up the special recovery vehicle to collect the K6 billion, no single tambala has been recovered.
After being paid the 3.1 billion Kwacha, Mulli is now seeking an additional K8 billion, in civil case number 474 of 2012 before the High Court in Blantyre. The 8 billion Kwacha is what Mulli is calling interests on the 3.1 billion Kwacha already paid. The same Attorney General, who dubiously authorized payment of the first claim says will challenge the claim. What a joke!
If you think you have heard enough, hear this; six companies linked to businessperson Leston Mulli have filed a separate K270 billion compensation claim against the government! That amount is about 34% of Malawi’s entire 2014/15 national budget. The companies are seeking K270 billion as compensation for damages for loss of business. They claim that the order by then Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara saw government departments stopping to trade with them. They add that the order also froze payments for previous contracts.
Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General in the PP administration, Ralph Kasambara, announced the ban on business dealings with Leston Mulli of MBL Holdings, saying the companies were “the subjects of criminal and tax evasion investigations.” He indicated that at that time overwhelming evidence had been unearthed supporting charges of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. And who is going to defend government and Malawians in this 270 billion Kwacha case? You guessed right. The same compromised Attorney general, Charles Mhango!
Just in case you have forgotten, in the K2.7 billion Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations scam, Mhango through his office volunteered to be third defendant in a private company case and went on to execute a consent order committing the Malawi Government to pay part of the sums supplier Pioneer Investments owed privately-owned CDH Investment Bank. This was despite the fact that government had already paid 2.7 billion Kwacha to Pioneer Investments and had no reason whatsoever to join a private case that would make taxpayers lose one billion Kwacha just because of Mhango’s and DPP’s shenanigans.
Part of these funds [about K145 million] from the Pioneer Investment deal ended in a Democratic Progressive Party bank account whose sole signatory is President Peter Mutharika. As another ‘thank you’, Zameer Karim of Pioneer Investments Limited bought five cars worth 85 million Kwacha and registered them in the name of President Peter Mutharika!
These property grabbers are working overtime to milk Malawi to death. They will never cease until Malawians take decisive action against them. Otherwise, Malawi will one day wake up to a bankrupt country. #MalawiVotes2019
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the Publisher or the Editor of Maravi Post