Malawi: Fiscal Police to Quiz Mutharika Over Cement Deal

President Peter Mutharika (file photo).

Former President Peter Mutharika has been earmarked to be summoned for interrogation in connection with K5 billion (about $7 million ) cement imported from Zambia and Zimbabwe duty-free under "personal use" provision in the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act when he was in power but was being sold by business persons.

Fiscal Police are interested to question Mutharika on the matter.

Mutharika's personal secretary Linda Salanjira issued the statement Friday in which he seems to suggest being a victim of identity fraud in the scandal in which his personal bodyguard, Norman Chisale, was arrested for.

Chisale remains security aide of Mutharika during his retirement.

"The former president neither bought nor instructed anyone to buy or import the cement in question... further, the former president was never at any point undertaking construction project(s) requiring such substantial volumes of cement," reads the statement in part.

Mutharika statement is in sharp contrast to what was communicated through his spokesperson then Mgeme Kalilani, when he was in power, that he was within the law as the goods imported were for personal use.

National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said that more people were being interviewed on the matter.

Law expert and activist Justin Dzonzi said Mutharika's public denial of his involvement is nothing and he will have to explain what he knows on recorded statement with law enforcers.

"Police will also deal with the matter depending on what they have as evidence and what they're getting from people they're interviewing. Most likely police would be interested to hear from him," Dzonzi said in quotes reported by Nation on Sunday.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition chairperson Gift Trapence also told the paper that Mutharika's statement does not in any way exonerate him from the allegations.

"I'm sure authorities would give him an opportunity to explain his role in the matter. There is no way they cannot have him to explain. That public statement distancing himself from the matter is not enough to clear his name," Trapence said.

Malawi News columnist George Kasakula wrote: 'Mutharika has a story to tell Malawians on the matter other than boring them to death with Facebook posts about meeting Eastern Region DPP officials at his villa in Mangochi and talking about leading DPP back to power in 2025 for a man that has just celebrated 80 years of age."

The columnist also calls for "a fair tax system not abused by those connected to power like it happened in the DPP cruel regime."

Apart from Chisale, police arrested Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) former deputy commissioner Roza Mbilizi in connection with the same cement deal. She is on court bail.

The law enforcers also arrested businessperson Shaffe Ahmed Chunara, owner of Prestige Imports and Exports, in connection with the importation of the same cement.

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