It seems Paladin Africa Limited (PAL)—owner of Kayerekera Uranium Mine (KUM) in the northern Malawi district of Karonga—has had enough jabs.
The company has asked the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate corruption allegations that Thyolo Thava legislator Lifred Nawena made against it.
Both Paladin and the ACB have confirmed the request for investigation.
Paladin general manager for international affairs, Greg Walker, said in an e-mailed response to a questionnaire that on Wednesday, November 21 2012, Nawena made a statement in the National Assembly in which he alleged that a child of the “most senior government official” opened an account where Paladin officials were depositing money.
He further claimed he had all the evidence and that he got the information from one of the commercial banks.
Walker described the allegations as “seriously defamatory of Paladin [Africa] Limited and company officials”.
He said although Nawena claimed to have evidence of Paladin’s wrong doing, he has neither lodged a formal complaint nor presented the evidence to ACB.
While admitting that the words Nawena uttered are under the protection of parliamentary privilege, Paladin still hopes that an investigation can help clear its name on the issue.
That is why, said Walker, on December 6 2012, two weeks after Nawena made the allegations, he met ACB director Justice Rizine Mzikamanda, requesting the Bureau to investigate the matter.
“It is perhaps highly unusual for a company accused of corrupt practice to request the ACB to investigate the allegation. I have done so in order to clear the good name and reputation of Paladin [Africa] Limited. This company has nothing to fear from such an investigation because no such incident involving Paladin or its officials ever took place.
“I expect Mr Nawena to present his ‘evidence’ to the ACB and, if he fails to do so, as a matter of common decency, to issue a public apology to this company for his erroneous and damaging accusations,” said Walker.
ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala confirmed that the bureau received a complaint from Paladin.
Said Ndala in a written response: “The Anti-Corruption Bureau is reviewing the complaint [by] Paladin to determine whether there is merit to warrant the Bureau’s action…. You may wish to note that whatever Hon. Nawena is alleged to have said in Parliament may have been covered under parliamentary privilege.”
Asked in a separate interview two weeks ago to substantiate his claim, Nawena said he was just repeating rumours circulating in the country.
“What I said was that there were rumours that Paladin was carrying out these practices. I called and I am still calling upon the ACB to investigate the matter,” said Nawena.
ACB’s Ndala said Nawena has not lodged a complaint with the bureau. To this, Nawena said he does not have to complain for ACB to act.
“Mine was a rumour which is circulating vigorously in the country. What will I report? A rumour?” wondered the parliamentarian.
He said the rumour was of national importance; hence, ACB should not wait for a formal complaint.