State House says South Africa-based Malawian billionaire businessperson Simbi Phiri will not get preferential treatment in doing business with government despite his connections with President Lazarus Chakwera and Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
Responding to a question during the third session of the newly-introduced State House Press Office weekly briefings at Kamuzu Place in Lilongwe, State Residences director of communication and executive assistant to the President Sean Kampondeni acknowledged Chakwera’s connection with Phiri and that the business mogul supported the President’s election campaign.
But he said the personal relationship would not mean Phiri getting favours.
He said the controversial multi-billion kwacha Salima-Lilongwe Water Project set to roll out was initiated before Chakwera became President following his triumph in the court-ordered June 23 Fresh Presidential Election.
Said Kampondeni: “You are right in saying that Mr. Simbi-Phiri is on record, publicly, saying that he has financed various campaigns across the country, not just at presidential level. He has also made contributions to parliamentary races and so forth.
“He has made that public and the President has never said anything publicly to contradict him. You also mentioned that one of his contributions to the President’s campaign was a contribution of a motor vehicle and that vehicle was part of declaration of assets published in the local papers which is something no President in this country has ever done to have their assets published in the local newspaper. There is nothing to hide regarding the contribution of that vehicle.”
He said the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project, which seeks to pump water from Lake Malawi over a distance of about 120 kilometres to ease supply challenges in the capital city, is currently under review by a committee of Parliament which will present its independent position.
“All of that demonstrates that the President is living up to his word that in the conduct of State affairs by independent State institutions, he will never interfere.
“He will never cover up anybody nor will he give anybody any favours because ultimately he occupies the office to serve Malawians and not personal interests,” said Kampondeni.
Simbi-Phiri’s firm, Khato Civils, was awarded the contract during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration led by immediate-past president Peter Mutharika. However, the contract was halted before fully rolling out amid criticism over the manner it was awarded and the financing model.
Simbi-Phiri is on record as having said that he was providing support to MCP and DPP.
He also said Chakwera was his personal friend and that during the 2014 elections campaign, he gave him a gift of a Hummer to facilitate his campaign.
Regarding the uncertainty on the reappointment of General Vincent Nundwe as Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Commander and his deputies, Kampondeni said the President was consulting on the matter. He did not elaborate.
In a special address on September 1 2020, the President announced the reinstatement of Nundwe as MDF Commander. He indicated he would meet the Defence Council on the appointment of Nundwe’s deputies.
Section 161 of the Constitution establishes the Defence Council as a body mandated to appoint and remove senior MDF officers.