Malawi Vice President Chilima's UTM Dragged On to MRA for 44 Vehicles Tax Invasion Probe

Malawi's Vice President, Saulos Chilima's political party, UTM, which he heads as a founding president has been dragged to the country's tax policing agency, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to be investigated on whether or not they invaded tax on their newly acquired fleet of over 40 brand new Motor Vehicles valued at over K3 billion.

A private concerned citizen, Gosten Chinseu, who moved the corruption busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate source of funding for UTM Party, whose leader is the incumbent vice president of the republic, following alleged purchase of 44 vehicles, has now taken the matter to Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) for a tax invasion probe.

In a letter to MRA dated May 13, 2022, seen by Nyasa Times, Chinseu moved the tax authority to trigger an investigation on UTM because wants to know how much tax UTM and alleged buyer of the vehicles, Khwesi Msusa, paid to MRA from the income they earned that spurred purchasing of the vehicles.

It reads: "This purchase, therefore, raises serious doubts first on how the party gets funding to buy such assets and secondly, if the source of their money is taxed adequately by the Malawi Revenue Authority.

"They, being a political party that does not receive any known funding in Parliament owing to their numbers, have not yet declared to the public if they earn money from any profit making undertaking," further reds the letter addressed to MRA's boss, John Bizwick.

Chinseu has, therefore, asked the MRA to get to the heart of the matter and probe taxation issues.

Adds the letter: "I am of the view that their assets and source of funding must be investigated exhaustively to ascertain whether they are paying the right taxes considerate to their venture."

An inside source at MRA said: "We are investigation on how much tax was paid, if any, on the 44 vehicles acquired by Mr. Chilima and his party through Mr. Msusa. We are trying to find the source of income for them to be able to buy 44 cars all at once. We are on it and the cat will soon be out of the sack."

Last week, the ACB told Nyasa Times it has had received two complaints against the second powerful political party in the ruling Tonse Alliance saying that the bureau is examining queries from a private citizen who has questioned the source of funding for 44 new vehicles he claims UTM Party has acquired through Khwesi Msusa, a contractor and an alleged sympathiser of the party.

ACB director general Martha Chizuma said in an interview that the bureau is screening two complaints from one individual regarding UTM vehicles.

Said Chizuma: "I can confirm that we indeed have received two separate complaints against a political party which has acquired some motor vehicles and we are currently screening the complaints."

When contacted earlier on the vehicles, Msusa, a close ally of Vice President Chilima, said: "The matter is in the hands of the ACB, and let us wait for them to do their work and they will let us know."

UTM Party publicity secretary Frank Mwenifumbo said: "We have the ACB looking into the matter and we would want to leave it up to them. We believe in the independence of the ACB."

Last year, UTM Party's partner in the nine-party Tonse Alliance, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), was also at pains to explain the procurement of eight Toyota Hilux pickups and a bus, but later said the fleet was bought with proceeds from the sale of its land.

In July last year, Malawi Law Society (MLS) started a process for parties to disclose their sources of funding.

MLS asked the Registrar of Political Parties to disclose sources and amounts of money the four major political parties received between January 1 2019 and December 31 2020.

The Political Parties Act of 2018, among others, compels political parties to disclose to the Registrar of Political Parties sources of their funding and any donations.

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