- Police Commissioner Chisale also detained
Malawi Police Service, Fiscal and Fraud Section, yesterday in Blantyre arrested former Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) deputy commissioner general Roza Mbilizi in connection with cement worth K3.2 billion former president Peter Mutharika imported duty-free.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed the arrest last night, adding that Mbilizi was being kept at Blantyre Police Station.
Kadadzera also confirmed the arrest of acting commissioner of police for the Central Region, Evalista Chisale, wife to personal bodyguard to Mutharika when he was in power, Norman Chisale, in relation to the death of Buleya Lule, who died in police custody.
The police spokesperson disclosed in a statement issued last night that Chisale was arrested alongside 11 other police officers after Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale directed that all officers implicated in the death of Lule be prosecuted.
Lule, 44, a suspect who allegedly offered to ‘buy’ a 14-year old Dedza boy with albinism for K800 000, died in Lilongwe in police custody in February 2019 after he appeared in court at the height of speculations that senior government officials during the administration of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) were involved in the killings of people with albinism.
His family suspected foul play, but police dismissed the claim.
Kadadzera said those arrested would answer to the offence of murder.
On Mbilizi’s arrest, the police spokesperson said Fiscal and Fraud Section was yet to furnish him with more details, but he said she was to spend the night in custody.
But police sources disclosed that Mbilizi was arrested in connection to the cement Mutharika imported between 2018 and 2019 duty-free from Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Mutharika imported about 400 000 bags of cement worth K3.2 billion duty-free despite promoting the Buy Malawian campaign and the local industry having production capacity.
Before the DPP was ousted from power in the June 23 fresh presidential election, State House and MRA on June 16 justified the transaction as “within the law”, as it was for personal use.
But private practice lawyer John-Gift Mwakhwawa had said the volume involved raised doubts on the “personal use” provision in the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act and had called for an investigation.
Written correspondence between State Residences and MRA indicated that through former director general of State Residences Peter Mukhito, Mutharika asked the public tax collector to facilitate clearance of the cement duty-free.
In the initial transaction in November 2018, the President bought 20 000 metric tonnes (MT) or 200 000 bags of cement worth $2 240 000 (about K1.68 billion) from PTC Zimbabwe Limited duty-free. In the second transaction. in July 2019, Mutharika bought the same quantity from Prestige Export based at Chipata in Zambia.
In a letter responding to the State Residences request, dated November 28 2018, MRA deputy commissioner of technical customs and excise Abigail Kamwamba approved the transaction and advised that the cement should be allowed into the country from previously Lilongwe Port to Dedza and Mchinji.
The Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act allows the President “duty free importation of items for personal use”.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson, the Reverend Maurice Munthali is on record to have said that the new Tonse Alliance administration would not arrest anyone, but would let the law take its course.
DPP officials have complained that the new administration under the leadership of Lazarus Chakwera is planning to arrest senior members of the party and claimed it is political persecution aimed at killing the party which is now in opposition.
Few DPP members have been arrested since Chakwera came into power, but police have defended the arrests, saying those arrested had criminal cases.