LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The country’s civil right group Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has penned Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda of suspected testing waters from the general public on his views that Indian businessman Abdul Karim Batatawala’s claims demand of MK250 billion.

CDEDI wants clarification from AG Nyirenda on the matter arguing that other quarter of the society are the view that AG’s remarks aimed at seeking public sympathy that Batatawala gets the toxic legal funds.

Sources within President Lazarus Chakwera’s Tonse administration told The Maravi Post that Batatawala is a secrete scheme with Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to deal with any other Indian businessmen who were contracted to supply goods and services with the former governing President Peter Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

MCP leadership wants be benefit from the payout once is made hence the Nyirenda seeking sympathy from the public.

In a letter dated November 11, 2021 signed by CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa addressing to Finance to AG Nyirenda copied to Minister Felix Mlusu and Malawi Parliament’s Public Affairs Committee (PAC) Chairperson Shadric Namalomba demands on justification for paying Batatawala.

“CDEDI would like to make inquiries on behalf of the marginalized masses, who are under the yoke of punitive taxes, on all the claims that are being made by Batatawala and all the other claimants, as follows:Were the contracts genuine?Were the contracts awarded on merit?Were the laws of Malawi followed to the letter in the whole tender process? You were quoted in the same article as having said that in most cases, these private firms never supplied any service or goods to the people of Malawi. Are the claims justifiable then?

“For your own information, there is widespread speculation from some sectors of the society, that your appointment to the office of the AG, was among other reasons, made in order to help facilitate claims of firms that are particularly connected to the Tonse Alliance major partner, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), hence the CDEDI’s appeal to your office to move the courts on the matter,” reads part of the letter.

CDEDI added, “CDEDI is appealing to the Minister of Finance, Hon. Felix Mlusu, and the Chairperson for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, Hon. Shadric Namalomba (MP), to intervene on the matter.

“It is worth noting that such claims are coming at a time when the public health sector is on its knees, due to inadequate funding leading to loss of lives from preventable diseases and conditions, as a result of scarcity of essential drugs and medicines”.

AG Nyirenda was replaced with Chikosa Silungwe after failed to please MCP leadership on legal advises.

Below is CDEDI letter to AG Nyirenda on Batatawala:

Dear Sir, 

RE: MK2 TRILLION PAYOUTS TO PRIVATE FIRMS

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), has been called to duty once again, and writes you Hon. Attorney General (AG), with reference to the above stated subject.

The Sunday Times dated November 7, 2021 carried a screaming headline ‘MK2TN CLAIMS SADDLE GOVT,’ in which the paper reported that the Malawi Government is struggling to settle claims in excess of MK2 trillion from private firms, contractors and companies, emanating from legal compliance anomalies.

In the said article, apart from confirming the shocking development, you were also quoted as having said that the majority of such claims are made in instances where such companies never supplied any services or goods to the people of Malawi, but rather government was found in breach of terms of contract.

Hon. Attorney General, CDEDI would like to bring to your attention this specific quote from you: “The claims are more than our annual budget, technically in excess of MK2 trillion. There are some firms that have just so many demands, I will give you an example of Batawala; him alone has cumulative claims of about MK250 billion. There are court judgments, we are appealing and defending in all those cases.”

Just to put it into perspective, MK250 billion is enough to finance the Affordable Input Programme (AIP), targeting 3.7 million beneficiaries in Malawi. It is against this background that well-meaning Malawians breathed a sigh of relief, when they heard from the same article that the Attorney General’s office has stepped up efforts to save the taxpayers’ funds.

However, CDEDI would like to make inquiries on behalf of the marginalized masses, who are under the yoke of punitive taxes, on all the claims that are being made by Batatawala and all the other claimants, as follows:

  1. Were the contracts genuine?
  2. Were the contracts awarded on merit?
  3. Were the laws of Malawi followed to the letter in the whole tender process?
  4. You were quoted in the same article as having said that in most cases, these private firms never supplied any service or goods to the people of Malawi. Are the claims justifiable then?

We believe all these questions can ably be answered, and amicably resolved in court. CDEDI is, therefore, urging the AG’s office to challenge all these claims in court, in the spirit of saving the taxpayers’ money.

For your own information, there is widespread speculation from some sectors of the society, that your appointment to the office of the AG, was among other reasons, made in order to help facilitate claims of firms that are particularly connected to the Tonse Alliance major partner, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), hence the CDEDI’s appeal to your office to move the courts on the matter.

In the same vein, CDEDI is appealing to the Minister of Finance, Hon. Felix Mlusu, and the Chairperson for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, Hon. Shadric Namalomba (MP), to intervene on the matter.

It is worth noting that such claims are coming at a time when the public health sector is on its knees, due to inadequate funding leading to loss of lives from preventable diseases and conditions, as a result of scarcity of essential drugs and medicines.

As per your tradition of promptly responding to the issues that are bordering on matters of national interest, which is a very commendable gesture, CDEDI is looking forward to seeing action being taken by your good office on this matter, very speedily.  

Yours Faithfully,

Sylvester Namiwa, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. 

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