Malawi: Nankhumwa Illegally Bought Tobacco Commission's Houses - Ombudsman Report

Leader of Opposition (LoP) Kondwani Nankhumwa has joined a ring of politicians in the country who abuse their powers after it has been revealed that he bought institutional houses, belonging to the Tobacco Commission (TC), illegally.

The Tobacco Commission is a statutory corporate body formed in 1938, and regulated by the Tobacco Industry Act of 2019 and, as such, Nyasa Times understands, Nankhumwa ought to have followed proper procedures in acquiring a property belonging to it.

'Named and Shamed'

According to a report released by the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday, and signed by former Ombudsman Martha Chizuma who is now Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general, Nankhumwa's purchase of the house had numerous irregularities.

The audit into TC affairs by the Ombudsman also saw seven employees, including the Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) Levi Phelani, get fired for having been employed without following proper procedures.

In the case of Nankhumwa, the report says the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Mulanje Central legislator, through the then CEO Kaisi Sadala bought TC's house illegally.

In the report, another DPP parliamentarian for Mwanza Central, Nicholas Dausi, is also mentioned to have benefitted from the shady deal.

"My office found that Mr. [Kaisi] Sadala [then CEO of TC] facilitated the sale of two institutional houses belonging to the Commission to Honourable Kondwani Nankhumwa and Honourable Nicholas Dausi contrary to the existing ban against the sale," reads Chizuma's report.

When Nyasa Times telephoned Nankhumwa on his mobile for a comment, he did not pick up after several attempts.

'Not Surprising'

But Nankhumwa, who turns 42 this July, and has ambitions to become DPP's president at the next elective indaba, has not been without controversy as far as shady deals is concerned.

In October 2017, when he was Local Government Minister, Nankhumwa was accused of being another overnight millionaire and faced allegations of corruption over military equipment.

In January 2018, prior to the DPP convention where he was elected the party's vice president for the southern region unopposed, the former Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) journalist was summoned before the ACB after donating in his constituency K23 million worth of items including an ambulance to Mulanje Central Hospital, 300 bicycles to party loyalists and two motorbikes to Mulanje Police Station.

Critics, then, questioned the source of his money and argued that three years earlier--at the time--he had struggled to find money for fuel during his re-election campaign in the run up to the election when the DPP was in opposition.

But Nankhumwa had defended himself saying apart from being an MP and a Cabinet Minister, he run businesses like any other Malawian, citing his Mzati FM and maize mills, among other businesses.

'Political Suicide'

Meanwhile, social commentator, Jackson Msiska, has said the naming of Nankhumwa in the Ombudsman's report over a corrupt deal has serious implications for the youthful politician.

Msiska said his supporters "will start questioning his credibility" on whether or not he should really lead the party in the 2025 presidential elections.

"All along, Nankhumwa has been a man of the people, and has enjoyed a really significant followership in the country from all Malawians, not just members of the DPP. But these revelations will now start making people think otherwise," said Msiska.

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