A day after revelations that President Peter Mutharika accepted five vehicles, worth K85 million, from Zameer Karim, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said it is still investigating the tycoon on the Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations scam and not on the donations.
Karim, whose Pioneer Investments donated K145 million to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) through a Standard Bank account which Mutharika is the sole signatory, is embroiled in a K2.7 billion police food rations contract controversy.
But following a public outcry on the K145 million donation, the DPP was forced to give back the donation to Karim, and ACB went ahead to clear Mutharika, saying he did not personally benefit from the money deposited into his account.
In an interview with Nation on Sunday yesterday, ACB director general Reyneck Matemba, who has been under public criticism after the graft-busting body cleared Mutharika on the issue, said ACB was making progress on its investigations on the food rations scam.
“The ACB re-opened its investigations into the Malawi Police Services/Pioneer Investments food ration packs procurement. The investigations are underway and we are making good progress,” he said.
Asked why the ACB ‘rushed’ to clear Mutharika, he said it was within their mandate to discontinue any case within their jurisdiction if there is no incriminating evidence.
According to Matemba, this was done with the interest of the public to avoid a situation “where the Bureau would be forced to pay huge sums of money for wrongly accusing some people or institutions”.
The ACB boss, however, indicated that discontinuance of a case or clearance of an individual or company does not make them immune from further investigations.
He added that when the bureau gathers more evidence implicating the cleared individuals or companies, they will re-open the case.
On whether the latest revelations on motor vehicle donation will form part of the investigations, Matemba said: “The investigations that ACB is conducting at the Malawi Police Service relate to the procurement of food ration packs, and not donation of motor vehicles”.
Commenting on the issue, rights activist Charles Kajoloweka, who is director of Youth and Society (YAS), said government needs to explain all dealings it has with Pioneer Investments for the public to appreciate.
He said more revelations on dealings regarding Pioneer Investiments should raise eyebrows.
“As YAS, we will continue to do our part. What is worrying is how law enforcing institutions are handling the matter. There is an issue of how the contract was raised and then the donation of K145 million and now a donation of cars? People need to know how many contracts is PI involved in and why government is so keen to provide them business”.
Our sister newspaper Weekend Nation yesterday revealed that five units of Nissan NP 300 vehicles that Karim bought from Nissan Malawi were a week later registered in Mutharika’s name and a proxy, State House employee Dabble Disi managed the change of ownership.
In explaining the five-vehicle donation yesterday, State House press secretary Mgeme Kalilani said the vehicles belonged to the party and not the President, a similar refrain that was dangled when Mutharika was asked to explain the K145 million donation.