By Nenenji Mlangeni
BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-This is pure state capture on President Lazarus Chakwera’s Tonse administration that nothing serious on ending corruption in Malawi as two suspected corrupt Asian businessmen Messrs Latif, Abdul Karim Batatawala were feasting over Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe firing on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.
Reliable sources told this publication that soon after news that Chakwera fired Silungwe at Messrs Latif and Abdul Karim’s houses were huge, happy, feasts.
They ate lots of biryani, laughed out loud and danced to their hearts’ content.It was a double celebration; Eid-ul-Adha and–importantly to them–the fall of Chikosa Silungwe, the man who was dead set against paying out billions of taxpayers’ money for irregularly awarded contracts and inflated deals.
The disagreement that Silungwe has been booted out for has to do with the Batatawala Case not opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 2020 election nullification case.
AG Silungwe comes barely days after the High Court sitting in Lilongwe dismissed an application by him (Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe) for the court to recommence proceedings in the MK53 billion Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services case where two firms have dragged the AG to court.
Two companies owned by businessman Abdul Karim Batatawala— Africa Commercial Agency and Reliance Trading Company— dragged the AG to court on behalf of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services, after they signed a MK9 billion deal with to supply uniforms to the department.
However, the department failed to pay the agreed amount, citing the firm’s delays in supplying the uniforms and other accessories which resulted in the companies demanding MK53 billion.
The AG asked the court to recommence proceedings so that former chief immigration officer Elvis Thodi, other immigration officers as well as officers from Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority— who were added as third party— could get a chance to hear the claimants’ testimony.
By the time these people were being added to the case, the claimants had already concluded their case and the defence had started its defence.
In his latest ruling, Judge Kenani Manda said the AG’s suggestion was untenable because the case was at an advanced stage.
“This matter is at such an advanced stage for me to recommence the trial; so, the suggestion being made by the Attorney General’s chambers is untenable. The above observation is made because third party proceedings are a separate legal action and the same is deemed to have been commenced on the date that it was filed.“
“Following the observations above, it is the direction of this court that this action should be concluded by the defendant either calling additional witnesses and closing their case. Should the defendant be found liable, then they can proceed with the third-party action against the added parties,” the ruling reads.
Batatawala’s lawyers Nampota and Company objected to the application, describing it as abuse of the court process.
“Parties will have to go back to scheduling conference where they will have to indicate how many witnesses each is to call and within which period they will serve those statements,” the skeleton arguments read.
The powers that he wanted him to stop pursuing that case in court and do an out of court settlement whereby Government would still pay Batatawala something.
The dispute being in billions the something would still be significant. It seems that this was a done deal between Batatawala and the powers that be. Money already changed hands.
Silungwe on the other hand believed he had enough evidence and facts and legal arguments to win that case and protect taxpayers funds.
It sort of reached a point where he refused a directive hence hence the firing.
Keep your eyes on how swiftly the next AG shall pay out the billions to the usual suspects via “amicable, out-of-court settlements”.