BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-In a twist of events, the former Chief Immigration Officer Masauko Medi complicates government’s case Government’s star witness in the Immigration uniforms court case has all but confirmed that Karim Batatawala’s firms are indeed owed money, according to court documents Daily Times has seen.
The documents—part of the claimants’ closing submissions filed in the High Court of Malawi Commercial Division Lilongwe Registry— indicate that former chief immigration officer Medi is the first witness for the defendant in the protracted legal battle that is costing taxpayers money that on October 26 2015 first claimant Reliance Trading Company Limited wrote him asking him confirm that the Department owed them
“I refused to do so and advised them to write me rather than verbal requests”, he says.
Medi admitted that on December 7, 2015, he wrote back to the company that he confirmed that the department owed the company the quoted amount.
Medi also said the claimant wrote him on April 20 2016, asking his office to confirm owing them K2,721,271,577.60 as devaluation per proforma invoice, which also said he confirmed that his department was liable on that as well.
In the court documents, Medi argues that “I verily believe that the 1st Claimant’s intention was to dupe me into writing the said letters so that they use the same against my office”.
The court documents do not show that Medi produced evidence that he was blindly made into admitting that the department indeed owed the claimants.
Medi also confirms in the documents that the Department of Immigration—in 2009, 2010 and 2012—indeed entered into contracts with the two companies to supply uniforms and accessories over a period of several years.
He also concedes that the then Office of Director of Public Procurement (ODPP), which is now called Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) cleared the contracts as having followed procurement laws through a ‘No Objection’.
Medi, however, only found it “shocking” that his department instructed three suppliers at the same time to supply uniforms worth over MK12 billion.
Medi joined the department in January 2015 after the contracts had already been signed, but some of the consignment from the suppliers arrived while he was at the institution.
The two companies argue that by failing to pay for the uniforms and accessories already supplied and refusing to clear with Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) as well as receive new consignments as per contractual obligations, the department has breached the contract.
The claimants, therefore, want the court to order the department to facilitate clearance of the goods the subject matter of the aforesaid contracts duty free; accept and take delivery of the goods; and pay the contract price for the goods delivered pursuant to the aforesaid contracts.
The suppliers also want the court to slap compound interest on the outstanding payments at the prevailing commercial bank lending rate on the contract price for the period it shall wholly or partially remain unpaid in terms of the contract.
They are also seeking an interlocutory injunction order for preservation and/or safe custody of the goods by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services pending final determination of the action herein plus
costs of the action.
Despite there being signed contracts and the Department of Immigration admitting owing the two suppliers, the Attorney General denies having entered into contract with the Claimants.
The defendants, according to court documents, even it were somehow established that the said contracts do exist, the defendant plan to argue before judge Ken Manda that they two companies took too long to supply.
By failing to supply within reasonable time, argues the defendant, “the Defendant will contend that the 2012 contracts got terminated through effluxion of reasonable time and therefore there was no contract at the
time of delivery of uniforms.”
However, the claimants argue that for some time they could not supply because the department was not honouring payments as per the contracts, staying months and sometimes years without clearing outstanding
bills, which made it difficult for the companies to order more.