Leader of the House George Chaponda and Mzimba West legislator Harry Mkandawire (People’s Party-PP) had a heated exchange in Parliament yesterday. This followed the latter’s allegation about corruption tendencies in the award of the contract to manage water transport.
On Monday, Mkandawire had alleged that multi-disciplinary Portuguese industrial conglomerate Mota-Engil was dubiously awarded the concession to manage Malawi Lake Service. He was asked to provide evidence to back up his claims.
Mkandawire brandished copies of a United Kingdom (UK) publication, which purportedly reported about deals between Malawi Government and Mota-Engil.
However, it appeared Chaponda was angered further when Mkandawire claimed that the Leader of the House, who is also Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, was among those allegedly named in the recent forensic audit report implicating senior government officials in the abuse of billions of public funds.
A visibly irate Chaponda, at one point, dared Mkandawire to follow him outside the House.
The minister had earlier challenged the legislator that his alleged evidence of the sale of the lake, a newspaper cutting reporting on the concession to the company, was fake.
The House then degenerated into chaos as both MPs shouted at the top of their voices amid jeers from other legislators, forcing First Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka-Chilenje to intervene.
Chaponda accused Mkandawire of seeking attention, observing that three weeks ago he also raised the issue about the wealth of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika in the House.
He said: “He is the same who talked about me and seven Cabinet ministers being implicated in the audit files. Each time he is asked for evidence he fails to do so. That is why I asked him to repeat the allegations outside [the National Assembly] because he is abusing parliamentary privilege. I could sue him for defamation of character if he said it outside the House.”
In 2012, Mota-Engil was given a 30-year concession to manage Malawi Lake Service and improve the water transport infrastructure. The company, among other things, was tasked to build a new ship and rehabilitate existing fleet within the first seven years.
Mota-Engil has since rehabilitated the MV Ilala and built MV Chilembwe, among others.
Ministry of Transport and Public Infrastructure at the time said the contract was single sourced because there were no other interested bidders.