Some civil society organisations’ (CSOs) leaders have sued Blantyre City Council (BCC) and the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) over the sale of Blantyre City mayor’s house at K65 million.
The K65 million, as admitted by DPP publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi, was part of a K145 million donation from Pioneer Investments, a company entangled in the Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations deal.
The CSO leaders Timothy Mtambo, Moses Mkandawire, Charles Kajoloweka, Gift Trapence and Masauko Thawe are demanding answers on how BCC sold the house to DPP and a possible cancellation of the sale.
BCC and DPP are first and second Defendants, respectively, in the Civil Cause Number 150 of 2019, filed at High Court Principal Registry, Civil Division in Blantyre.
Through lawyer Wesley Mwafulirwa, the CSO leaders are seeking several reliefs including cancellation of the sale, an account of how the funds were used and costs for the legal proceedings.
In the writ of summons, the CSO leaders seek: “An order compelling the 1st Defendant to give an account (in terms of Section 37 of the Constitution of Malawi) of how they sold the mayor’s house belonging to the first Defendant on trust for and on behalf of the people of Blantyre and Malawi.
“An order compelling the second Defendant to give an account (in terms of Section 37 of the Constitution of Malawi) of how and/or whether, being the ruling party, they bought the mayor’s house belonging to the 1st Defendant on trust for and on behalf of the people of Blantyre and Malawi and whether all public procurement procedures were followed.”
If the court grants them their wish in all their prayers, the CSOs leaders also want an order for BCC and DPP to issue a public apology within seven days from the date of the judgement.
In the letter to BCC dated August 25 2018, Mwafulirwa argued that his clients felt the sale smacks of corruption, unfair favouring of one political party, money-laundering, breach of public trust and breach of public procurement laws.
He said his clients felt that the money used to buy the house was tainted, illegal and came from a series of dubious transactions.
Mwafulirwa also wondered whether other political parties, private citizens or businesses were given a chance to bid for the property, or generally whether there was a fair public sale of the said property.
He argued: “The information that our client has is that the publicity secretary of DPP [Nicholas Dausi] admitted that the money used to make the purchase came from an illegal and dubious political funding from Pioneer Investments.
“Our clients strongly believe that the money used to make this purchase is tainted, illegal and came from a series of dubious transactions. The sale process, therefore, our clients believe, amounts to money-laundering of proceeds of crime.”
However, unmoved with threat of a possible lawsuit, Chanza said his office would not respond to the demand.
“There is no issue to respond to here. This is a straight forward issue. We have all facts on the issue, and let them go to court, we will meet there with our facts. They do not have interest on the matter,” he said.
According to a leaked November 2017 Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) report, a day after the supplier deposited K2.793 billion payment from police for supplying 500 000 ration packs, the company transferred K145 million to the DPP Standard Bank account on April 13 2016.
Between January and October 2016, President Peter Mutharika “made cheque withdrawals amounting to K65 million from the said Standard Bank account,” the Bureau report says.
This becomes a second case where CSOs leaders have taken public entities to court, after the Blue Night case which came after the DPP allegedly received about K13.5 million from public institutions during its dinner and dance on July 29 2017. n