BY DR ANTHONY JOHN MUKUMBWA
The country is overwhelmed with revelation of an allegation that Malawi Electoral Commission has hired a South African legal firm in the name of Mboweni Maluleke Inc Attorneys at a cost of US$788,500.00.
Clause 2 of the alleged agreement says: The agreement secures our services on a PRIORITY BASIS at an agreed fee of US$788,500.00. The agreement further states that (3.1) 50% of the fee is payable in advance on or before 13th March 2020 (3.2) 50% shall be payable to us upon finalization of the matter. Priority basis means the government has put this payment on top list with procurement of essential drugs etc on secondary position.
This is extremely strange. Who is benefiting from this outrageous contract? I talked about advance payments frauds in my last articles. There is potential money laundering here?
The owner of the firm graduated in 2012 and the law firm started operating in 2016. The firm let alone the owner lawyer have no capacity beyond our local lawyers. I repeat that this has all signs of money laundering and FIA and ACB if you are credible must move in and investigate this firm and accomplices in Malawi who could be trying to launder money out of this country.
I urge the South African Special Investigations Unit (SIU) if you are credible to investigate this legal firm.
Malawi Law Society if at all you are credible should also investigate the Attorney General and MEC Chairman for any possible inappropriate dealings in this matter.
The payment of about MK600million is payable from taxes. Expenditure of taxes is supposed to be pre-approved by our parliament on behalf of the people of Malawi.
Looking into the 2019/20 national budget (including the 2020 revised budget) I do not see any vote relating to this. If this allegation is true then this is s serious fraud case through misprocurement and ACB needs to move in if not compromised too. Any normal Malawian (I said normal) should be very ANGRY with what is happening in this country.
I have seen a letter dated 11th March 2020 allegedly written by the Attorney General to MEC requesting MEC to make an undertaking to pay accommodation costs for three foreign lawyers who resided at the Presidential Hotel (oh my God) in Lilongwe at an undisclosed cost.
Note that the legal costs of this foreign law firm are inclusive of all expenses. The letter written to the CEO of Umodzi Hotel asks an extension of a credit facility to MEC not the foreign lawyers. In the said letter to the CEO of Umodzi Hotel the Director of the Public Procurement has allegedly approved the procurement. All sane Malawians should be asking these questions:
(1) Were public procurement rules complied with?
(2) By hiring foreign lawyers, is MEC not saying that lawyers in Malawi are not credible or incompetent, untrustworthy, unreliable, have refused to stand for them etc. What message is MEC sending to Malawi judges who are lawyers too?
(3) Where is the professional James Mwanamveka- custodian of the public purse?
(4) Where is our parliament to stop this financial management inpunity?
(5) Where is RBM and Governor Kambambe the controller of external payments? You refuse to pay advance payments for importation of goods critical to the economy but will you allow advance payment for such a useless expenditure that has nothing to do with the growth of the economy.
(6) Why Mr Kabambe, Mr Kamphale, Mr Mwanamveka and others when we have no drugs in hospitals? what is your conscience telling you?
(7) Mr Kabambe, Mr Kamphale, Mr Mwanamveka and others what is your morality telling you when our mothers are delivering babies on hospital floors?
(8) Mr Kabambe, Mr Kamphale, Mr Mwanamveka what is your personality telling you when our district hospitals have no proper diagnosis equipment?
(9) Mr Kabambe, Mr Kamphale, Mr Mwanamveka and others what is your inner person telling you when MEC is allegedly involved in this massive fraud (using public money for personal benefit of fallen Commissioners and their employer)?
(10) Mr Kabambe, Mr Kamphale, Mr Mwanamveka and others are you God fearing? Do you belong to any church at all? Is your pastor smiling at you and not telling you off?
(11) Above all where are you World Bank, IMF, American government, British government, EU etc? Why are you silent on this matter. Don’t ever talk about public financial management prudence.
(12) Where are Pastors for MEC Commissioners, Minister of Finance, RBM Governor, Attorney General etc? If you have not been financially captured too by these personalities let us see you reprimanding them for bringing so much distress to the citizens of this country the way you discipline the poor that commit lesser offences in the society. Are you going to excommunicate them too as you did to James who stole one cow?
(13) Any advance payment of this magnitude has to be backed by a bank quarantee. Mr Attorney General is there any bank guarantee to support this advance payment?
(14) Did Commissioners authorise this contract? If they approved the this suspicious contract, are they not personally and individually liable and accountable for such misprocurement?
I am extremely distressed knowing that we have professionals like Mwanamveka, Kamphale, Kabambe and others in government who shouldn’t fall prey to these maladministration practices.