Opposition lawmakers have threatened to utilise their numerical strength in Parliament to shoot down the National Budget unless President Peter Mutharika addresses concerns on the controversial sale of the State-owned Malawi Savings Bank (MSB).
Opposition MPs, led by Malawi Congress Party lawmaker Peter Dimba, yesterday pushed for an explanation on government’s decision to take over MSB’s toxic loans following The Nation’s revelations that government is set to pay for loans obtained from the bank by some businessmen and politicians.
Dimba described the sale and repayment of the loans as “daylight robbery” and said his party has evidence indicating that Mulli Brothers Limited and other companies and persons obtained over K6 billion (US$13 million) in loans to finance the campaign of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
“Mr Speaker, sir, we are experiencing one of the most heinous corruption scandals whose masterminds are the Minister of Finance, the RBM [Reserve Bank of Malawi]governor, some Cabinet ministers and party officials,” said Dimba.
He said his party has evidence indicating that government wants to hand over the bank to FDH Bank, owned by Thom Mpinganjira, whom he described as “Mutharika’s crony, tribesman, DPP campaign financier who sits on the public reforms commission.”
“Mr. Speaker, sir, let it be known that we will not allow this madness to continue. In fact, the MSB corruption scandal will have to be sorted out first before we even begin discussing the budget. Government will have to rescind this theft otherwise the Finance Minister will dance with the budget in this august House,” said Dimba.
The sentiments drew applause from the opposition benches but wrath from the government benches.
On several occasions, Speaker Richard Msowoya interrupted Dimba to caution him against mentioning individuals outside Parliament and government.
Cabinet ministers including Leader of the House Francis Kasaila and Henry Mussa lept to the floor to demand evidence, which Dimba and several opposition MPs said was available.
MCP MP Dzoole Mwale, brandished The Nation newspaper edition that exposed the loan scandal where government has decided to issue K6 billion promissory notes to MSB for the toxic assets.
Another MCP lawmaker Joseph Njobvuyalema said the whole opposition was in support of the position taken by a group of MPs who have actively opposed the sale and described it as “a robbery which will be stopped.”
Government’s decision to sell MSB has courted controversy from MPs as well as the bank’s employees who dragged government to court over the matter.
The High Court in Blantyre has since granted an injunction to the employees restraining government from selling the bank.
The court granted leave for judicial review where all concerned parties—government, MSB executive management and employees—are expected to be heard.