This is it. The buses which domestic football powerhouses—Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers—got as gifts from immediate past president Peter Mutharika were not bought using his personal funds as announced earlier by State House.
Weekend Nation has established that the Higger buses, which were handed over to the two teams just a day before the fresh presidential election, were bought from Rashy Motors through a cheque amounting to K300 million from State Residences.
The payment was processed through National Bank of Malawi’s Lilongwe Service Centre and the buses were branded at City Motors in Blantyre.
Former State House press secretary Mgeme Kalilani initially said the buses were bought using Mutharika’s personal money.
But he changed his tune yesterday, saying there was a communication breakdown.
In a response to a questionnaire, Kalilani said: “As much as I ceased to speak for the former president, I think I have to step in and clarify this because it is important to do so.
“Yes. Correct. The buses were bought by State House. Apparently, there was poor communication from the officer who was handling the transaction at the State House on behalf of the [former] president.
“When he was asked about the source of the funds for the purchase, he said ‘it was from the President’, which was understood to mean from the President’s own personal funds. But The correct position was that it was from the President’s Vote in the National budget handled by the State House.”
Initially, the former State House press secretary also said Mutharika had bought Marcopolo luxury coaches, but as it turned out, they were Higger buses.
On his part, Rashy Motors managing director Rashid ‘Rashy’ Gaffar yesterday confirmed having received payment “from government”.
He said: “I have been involved in this business for sometime and I can sell them to anyone.
“I got payment from government for the buses, but I cannot go into details, rather the information should come from the government… They are better placed to give out more details. I just supplied the buses.”
Football analyst Humphrey Mvula described the purchase as abuse of office by the former president.
He said: “It is not surprising that taxpayers’ money was used by APM to buy these two buses. Now that we know, one begs to ask the one million dollar question: Why did he lie?
“Additionally, the buses procured are not Marcopolos from Brazil, they are Higgers from China, another lie.
“This was fraudulent behaviour because he couldn’t have used government money on the pretext of being his own.”
Mvula urged the new government to ask the former president to pay back the money.
“I equally wonder how a Higger bus would cost K150 million each,” he said.
Mutharika made the pledge to the two teams on June 13 at Nyambadwe Primary School ground in response to the requests from the two teams as well as the Football Association of Malawi.
He said: “Funso la mabasi…. Mabasi tikupatsani lero. Bus imodzi kwa Big Bullets, bus ina kwa Be Forward Wanderers.”
However, the two teams did not get the buses on the same day as promised.