embattled businessman Abdul Karim Batawarara
ZOMBA-(MaraviPost)-The embattled businessman Abdul Karim Batawarara has obtained High Court injunction prohibiting the country’s leading newspaper, The Nation from publishing details surrounding the MK53.9 billion Immigration Department uniforms supply deal.
Malawi government challenged the MK53 billion claim by Karim’s companies Africa Commercial Agency and Reliance Trading Company, which, among other things, pegs a single uniform shirt for an Immigration officer at about MK60 000 and in some cases a belt at MK100 000.
This comes despite some of the country’s civil society organisations and political leaders calling for intensive investigations on how the suppliers arrived at the MK53.9 billion claim from an initial MK9 billion contract.
The Nation newspaper has been running a series of publications depicting him as a “corrupt and fraudulent.”
A sworn statement by Karim Batawarara’s lawyer Clement Mwala shows the business transaction referred to are subject to court proceedings and still pending determination and therefore depicting him as corrupt and fraudulent “cannot be justified.”
The court imposed reporting restriction order to prevent the newspaper from reporting the ‘uniform-gate’ scandal.
Top government officials in Immigration, Attorney General and Secretary to the Treasury as well as representatives of the suppliers, Africa Commercial Agency and Reliance Trading Company, were scheduled to appear before Parliamentary’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday to explain the claim.
Clerk of Parliament Fiona Kalemba however is in a legal opinion quoting parliamentary standing order 192 (1), said the top government officials could not appear before the committee because the matter was in court.
The government’s chief legal adviser, Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, said the matter was concluded and wished “the subjudice opinion was matter specific.”
The Nation Newspaper however on Friday in an editorial comment question the behavior of Parliament on the matter, as an institution mandated to make laws in the country, shouldn’t confuse Malawians arguing PAC summoned officials for an inquiry and in the next minute the Parliament Secretariat legal department stops the committee in its trucks.