Our investigative reporter has uncovered the hidden but substantial truth behind the infamous club bus sale, which has invited a lot of unanswered questions and murmuring from the corners of the country.
A lot has been said but i believe it was out of ignorance, spite and in the absence of relevant information, hence mere speculations. The reporter is here to put to bed all unnecessary utterances and unwarranted accusations.
Mr Rashid Gaffer is a well known and established businessman; he owns Rashy Motors. It is one of the oldest and biggest logistic oriented companies in Malawi. Rashy Motors is a good Malawian story to tell; from grass to grace story, from humble beginnings.
A Malawian he is, one of the best and partners of the government, an employer of more than 1,000 Malawians.
Apart from being a politician he, Rashy as fondly called, is well among the few guys behind the financial and emotional support of Be-forward Wanderers football club. He has spent millions in kind just to see young men succeed in their football career through one of the most loved football institutions, the nomads team.
Upon noticing and identifying the many challenges Malawians face during their itenirary to and from South Africa, logistics-wise; He strategically planned to assist the government in the transport sector by launching a luxury coach company with routes to/from Lilongwe/Blantyre to Johannesburg.
He purchased 5 Higer Buses outside the country using a bank loan that was attracting an interest component, somewhere in the late 2018 or early 2019.
Before he could be given a permit to run the business, he had to follow and fulfill all costly road traffic and due process requirements;
* C&F Price ex Beira port.
* Port fees.
* Fuel Beira/BT.
* Road Toll fees.
* Drivers Allowance.
* Mozambique Insurance.
* Escort Vehicle costs.
* Clearing Agent fees.
* MRA Clearance fees.
* Bank Charges & Interest.
* Marine Insurance.
* Registration at RTD.
* Full cover insurance.
One bus costed him a whopping K120,000,000 (being the purchase price plus expenses as mentioned above).
And if we are to consider the Exchange rate loss , EC rate was 735K/$ at the time of initial purchase, to replace the buses now would be at rate of about 910K/$.
The former President of Malawi, His Excellency Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika announced on a public podium that he was gifting a bus each to Wanderers and Bullets football clubs which he confidently said he was personally going to foot the bill from his baggy pockets, the nation and the world heard him loud and clear.
However, Malawians were going to cast their ballots on 23rd June to decide the future of the nation, lingering in the air was the Apm’s promise. He was obligated to make good within three days before voting. It was a campaign promise.
Amidst the border shutdown due to Covid-19 Crisis, the then President’s team knew time was not on their side and at all cost they wanted to fulfill their promise to garner more votes from soccer loving Malawians.
In their fit of despair, they approached Mr Gaffer, to sale them two of his buses.They insisted, having spent K120 Million on each unit, as a business man, there was no way he could sale them at a loss.
As a shrewd businessman Mr Rashy Gaffar had to to consider alot of things. The business environment has been clumped with a lot of restrictions. Considering the fact that now we are in Covid-19 crisis, he may never get another chance to order more buses plus considering the efforts, logistics and exchange rate etc. he charged them K150,000,000 per unit which to be honest, is fair and reasonable, a thing that any businessman in such a circumstance could have done.
I have heard some people asking why didn’t he ask the president where he was getting the money to purchase the buses?
Guys, let us be serious, who can have audacity to ask a sitting president that question or who can deny doing a favor to a sitting president.
Do you think Mr Gaffer had a choice? Don’t we know how perilous it was then, what if he had refused them, what could have happened to him?
This issue has been blown out of proportion.
It shows Apm made the promise out of excitement on the podium and to mesmerize the people in Ndirande, unfortunately he was not aware that bus dealers in Malawi didn’t have the stock required. it was out of sheer luck that Rashy had them.
Therefore, I find it unpleasant and unreasonable that we should run up and down in a haste making conclusions without putting these factors into a rational consideration.