Tobacco Commission (TC) has repossessed one of the two institutional houses sold without following procedures at K50 million in 2018.
Court documents The Nation has seen show that the commission and businessperson Jayshree Patel, who bought the house in Blantyre, agreed on an amicable settlement of the matter by revoking the contract of sale between the two parties for the house on Plot Number CG 88 or title Number Chigumula 22.
Patel did not bid for the property, according to TC, and that it was sold below valuation as well as lower than what other bidders offered.
The two parties also agreed that TC should, within seven days from December 6 2021, pay Patel K50 million as refund towards purchase of the property as well as reimburse costs of renovations and improvements made to the property.
Reads the agreed order: “The parties may jointly engage a quantity surveyor to help the parties to resolve the issue of value of the repairs and improvements made. If the parties fail to agree on the quantum for reimbursement of repairs and improvements costs within 30 days from the date of this order, the matter shall proceed to assessment of the same by the registrar.”
Notwithstanding conclusion of the processes, the claimant is instructed to surrender possession of the property to the defendant by December 31 2021, the order adds.
Earlier, Patel sought a court injunction restraining TC from evicting her.
In an interview this week, TC chief executive officer Joseph Chidanti-Malunga confirmed that the commission agreed to refund Patel, adding that the K50 million refund was already made.
He said: “It is good news that TC has at least managed to recover one of the houses, but we are still remaining with one more house to repossess.”
Chidanti-Malunga said Patel is billing the commission about K40 million for the repairs. He said a quantity surveyor is likely to be engaged to help with costing of the repairs.
Patel’s lawyer Felisah Kilimbe Mitambo refused to divulge any information, saying her client did not authorise her to speak to the media about the matter.
TC is also pushing to repossess a house in Area 10 in Lilongwe sold at K125 million to Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa on grounds that it was sold without following due processes and that Nankhumwa was not the highest bidder.
A letter from TC to Nankhumwa dated June 17 2021 titled ‘Settlement Proposal on Disposal of Plot Numbers 10/470 (Title Number Alimaunde 10/292) stated that the evaluation of the bids and the award of the contract to him was not done by the structures mandated under the Public Procurement and Disposal Authority.
It further stated that Nankhumwa was offered the house despite his bid being K25 million less than that of the highest bidder.
In his response to the proposal, Nankhumwa through his lawyer Khwima Mchizi, in a letter dated June 21 2021 addressed to Chidanti-Malunga, declined the offer, arguing that his client responded to a public bid advertised on March 17 2018 and that all processes were followed.
In its report into alleged abuse of office at the commission released in May this year, the Office of the Ombudsman faulted the sale of the two institutional houses, saying it was against a ban on sale of institutional houses.