LILONGWE (Maravi Post)—A brutal battle of accusations and counter accusations of Malawian billionaires in a deal gone bad has ensued and last time such battle happened, one Paul Mphwiyo of the infamous Malawi cashgate scandal was almost assassinated by a masked gunman in Lilongwe. The Maravi Post hopes this war of words will not end up in bloodshed.
This is the dispute between one Dr Mathews Chikaonda—the accused— who is also the outgoing Chairman of Press Holdings Limited and the accuser—a South African based Malawian entrepreneur Joshua Chiza Mbele popularly known as JC Mbele on the social media.
Mbele who owns a company called Ulalo Capital Investments is strongly alleging that Dr Chikaonda presided over to the detriment of his company, a K320 million collusion scam involving Telecommunication Network of Malawi (TNM), one of the mobile service providers in the country but the economist has undiplomatically hit back at his accuser (Mbele) telling him to ‘shit’ or to go ‘off the pot’ and in the process challenging the loud mouth Mbele to be man enough to take the issue to court rather than making unnecessary noise on the social media— a behavior typical of cowards.
Mbele claims that he was led into a financial trap by TNM Directors during the time TNM was being listed that lead to the investment suffering heavy financial losses forcing them to pay almost double as much; incurring huge losses in the process.
He claims that his company paid MK321 Million for the shares instead of paying MK170m as previously negotiated and agreed.
Ulalo Capital Investments Limited (UCL) in a joint investment with SAEDF in Ulalo Telecoms Limited (UTL) lost their money in the share allocation scam when Ulalo, on assurance from Chikaonda, Board Chairperson, obtained a further loan from their funder Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund (SAEDF) to increase their shareholding to 4.99% from their existing 3%.
In August 2008, UCL wrote to the Chairman of Board indicating their intention to increase their (UTL) stake from 3% to 5%. They got positive conÒrmation. Acting on instructions from Sean O’Neill, who acted as broker in the deal, Ulalo was advised that for the company to reach the target of 5% it had to hold 500 million shares in the TNM which subsequently meant UTL buying an additional 238 million shares.
The broker had advised UTL to pay MK416m at 175 tambala for the additional shares. The price was later revised to K2.00 as per IPO Prospectus. On 17th October 2008, Mbele handed over MK459m together with the [share] subscription documents to O’Neill’s oÕce. The other directors of Ulalo Telecoms Limited are Malcolm Pryor (Chairman), Chancellor Kaferapanjira, Patrice Nkhono, Washington Kaimvi and RaÒque Symonnette.
Meanwhile, in articles shared widely online, Dr Davies Lanjesi is also implicated said he recently attempted to fraudulently change the directorship of Ulalo both in South Africa and Malawi with company registrars by lodging fake papers.
“He was caught red handed in both instances. In South Africa, he is facing criminal charges of fraud, forgery and corruption. He acted in contravention of Company’s Act. In Malawi, the High Court declared his attempts unlawful.”
The document further reads: “Dr Lanjesi is the victim of poor legal advice. His lawyer, James Masumbu has performed worse than unskilled plumber. His client was reduced to desperately committing petty criminal acts after court humiliations. The assistance from Chikaonda to divert Ulalo dividends was surely the most stupid thing to embark on. It would expose the bank and employees to criminal prosecution.
Chikaonda, who retires at PCL, has been branded “a highly educated person but incredibly incompetent and shameless crook” who served his personal interests at the expense of everybody.
“He colluded with Hitesh Anadkat the Chairman of Livingstone Holdings, the owners of FMB bank to commit what would only be described as the biggest fraud and inside trading in Malawi’s corporate history and Stock Exchange.
“The crime that would have seen them behind bars if President Bingu wa Mutharika had not suddenly died in April 2012. Chikaonda has an axe to grind with Ulalo for reporting him to Reserve Bank of Malawi for investigation. As the Regulator of Malawi Stock Exchange, the Central Bank launched an investigation into TNM IPO. Both Chikaonda and Anadkat as Directors were questioned.
“They were asked to submit written answers to series of questions. They had two weeks to reply. In the end, the Reserve Bank came to one conclusion. TNM IPO was a massive fraud. Criminal investigation was recommended.
The report was prepared and presented to President Mutharika to authorize ACB to take over the matter. Sadly, Mutharika suddenly died of cardiac arrest in that very week of 5th April 2012. Chikaonda has a Case to answer. His determination, today, to harm Ulalo must be understood. Ulalo put him in trouble.” Mbele said he wrote his legal advisor, Wapona Kita and stated that National Bank of Malawi failed to officially explain itself how a Bank Account was opened with forged documents.
Brutal response from Chikaonda to Mbele
“Hear! Hear! Hear! That’s the beauty of Democracy. He who alleges must prove and we all have a right to be presumed innocent unless proven guilty in an open forum we call the “Courts” where such matters should be argued before an independent arbiter. Also, he who seeks justice must come with clean hands.
We also note that under the democratic dispensation, the accused has a right (not a privilege, but “the right”) to face their accuser in the said open forum.
Further, under the same democratic dispensation, we are guaranteed many rights, including freedom of speech and expression. However, there is no corollary right for people to listen to you when you choose to speak or express yourself. Yes indeed, you even have the right to make a fool of yourself.
So, for me, based on the many years of experience in Academia, public and private sectors, where I had the privilege of dealing with high-ranking people like Presidents, Prime Ministers, etc on the one hand; and also little stuff like mosquitos and fire-flies, on the other, I have learnt a number of lessons and wish to share a few as follows:
- Don’t argue with a fool because you might be mistaken for one yourself.
- It is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all possible doubt.
Since Mr. Mbele has just succeeded in breaking Rule No. 2 above, I wish to advise everyone else to stick to Rule No.1 above. There again, you are entitled to choose freely. Even if you choose wrongly, it’s your right.
During the years of my sojourn in America, I also learnt a few lessons and a new, more direct way of speaking, whereby you don’t call a spade a “big spoon”. So, to Mr. Mbele, I wish to offer the following advice in the parlance of Mid-west America:
‘Shit or get off the pot’