10 July 2018

Malawi: Opposition Demand Attorney General Resigns Over Malawi Police Food Scandal

Eight opposition parties including the erstwhile ruling People's Party (PP) have issued demands for Attorney General Charles Mhango to immediately resign for putting the Malawi government at risk in the Malawi Police Service (MPS) controversial food rations procurement.

Attorney General is government's chief legal adviser. And Mhango also serves as ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legal adviser.

A leaked Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) docket of an says, the Attorney General got involved when he had knowledge that the Minister of Finance was not the guarantor in the deal as demanded by the law.

However, in a strange event, the Malawi Police Service was the guarantor to the loan at the commercial bank.

"We demand the immediate removal or resignation of the Attorney General as these issues and others have deeply compromised him," the statement from the opposition reads in part.

ACB has been investigating a Malawi police food supply contract, worth around 2.8bn kwacha that was awarded to a firm owned by businessman Zameer Kari, called Pioneer Investments.

The report alleges that the head of finance of Malawi's police, Innocent Bottomani, and Karim had "connived" to award Pioneer Investment a contract to provide 500,000 food ration packs.

Days after the contract was signed, Pioneer Investment allegedly asked for a change to the agreed price from 2.3bn kwacha to nearly 2.8bn - the report says the change was fraudulently approved by Bottomani.

When Karim was paid for supplying the food ration packs in 2016, he allegedly deposited 145m kwacha into a DPP bank account that is reportedly managed by President Mutharika.

Both Karim and Bottomani have denied involvement in the alleged fraud.

Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has recommended prosecution police officers involved in the food rations procurement.

The findings of the PAC investigation show that the contract was formulated without consulting the Attorney General and concludes that there was no justification for the upward revision of the contract from K2 327 087 500 to K2 793 087 500.

The upward revision of K466 million representing 20 percent of the initial contract plus a later claim of interest close to K500 million are the main bone of contention for the controversial deal.

PAC chairperson Alekeni Menyani confirmed the findings of the report and added that the committee feels vindicated that there was criminality in the saga by the findings of the ACB report.

He said the "criminal enterprise" should be immediately investigated.

Nyasa Times has consistently been reporting about the e interest claim controversy by Pioneer Investments until the local press picked it up which prompted a public inquiry by the parliamentary oversight committee and then the ACB launched its investigation.

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