I find Symon Vuwa Kaunda to be one of those really interesting politicians. He is one such politician who appears to be courting disaster.
Yet, Vuwa somehow finds his way out, the way Harry Houdini cheated death.
Figure this: In February last year, Vuwa was an adviser to President Peter Mutharika. One day, as he was musing on what advice (never mind if that advice was misguided or not) to give the one at Plot Number One, Vuwa got a call from someone claiming to be Felix Mangani, controller of lands.
The caller tells the then youth affairs advisor that the President was offering him two plots behind the New State House. All he had to do was to wire some money for the transaction.
You would think it is a joke, but it is not, for Vuwa deposited close to K1.4 million into a personal account of some common thief. K580 000 was meant for the development transaction; K474 000 for the title deeds and K371 000 for another plot.
Considering the deal done and being a ‘blue-eyed’ boy, Vuwa called the President to thank him for enabling him to acquire prime land for song. One can only imagine how Mutharika may have flinched, wondering how naïve Vuwa could be to think a whole State President could go down allocating plots to those around him. Indeed, Mutharika must have opened his mouth in awe wondering how on earth Vuwa could transact with public officers he did not know over the phone and deposit government money into a personal account.
But then, life is funny. It is funny strange, not funny ha-ha. The same Mutharika who might have wondered how much Vuwa seemed to be out of touch with land issues appointed him to be Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
It is a little bundle of contradictions. Which is why I don’t really find it surprising that even when the ministry’s Principal Secretary Joseph Mwandidya accepted there is rot in the ministry, Vuwa takes the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil and say-no-evil stand.
Lilongwe City South West parliamentarian Nancy Tembo spilled the beans the other day when the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs was meeting lands officials led by Mwandidya. Tembo told the committee Livimbo Community Day Secondary School land in Lilongwe’s Area 2 had been sold.
Although the revelation attracted public furore, it was nothing for Vuwa. He dismissed Tembo’s claims as ‘mere allegations and a fake story’.
But then, a few days later, Vuwa went to Plot 2/212 to tell Ahmed Yajub Laheri and his business partner Irfan Mohammed Patel were encroaching on the school land by 6.1 metres. On his part, Laheri claims it is the school that is encroaching on his Plot 2/213.
What I find intriguing is that Vuwa is refusing to come to terms with the sad reality that there is rot, deep rot, in his ministry. When he was appointed minister, one would think he should have been the first to try to clear the waste if the experience he went through last year is anything to go by.
As of now, Vuwa—to borrow his words—should have used the powers vested on him by the President to track how seven people suspected of running a parallel lands office that was selling people in Lilongwe land using fake documents were released on bail without any charges.
It is possible this is the racket that duped Vuwa of K1.4 million and it is highly probable this is the very sham that may have sold Laheri and Patel Livimbo CDSS.