Top government officials are blocking Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) from acting on whistle blowers a multibillion Kwacha corruption scandal where cabinet ministers are involved in illegally ‘brokering’ a deal between the Malawi Defence Forces (MDF) and Ashok Leyland, an Indian automobile manufacturing company, with the latter negotiating to supply 500 units to MDF.
The bureau has failed to explain its inaction on the matter with officials coy to comment, claiming they have not been given him concrete evidence.
But sources within the graft-busting body informed Nyasa Times of increased meddling by the Executive to suffocate the investigations on the matter.
Nyasa Times recently reported that there is a requirement of 500 trucks to replace the ageing TATA fleet acquired over a decade ago. The trucks shall include top carriers, water bowsers, buses and other military logistic vehicles.
“When the MDF management discussed and agreed on the need to acquire a new operational fleet for the Army, the former Deputy Defence Minister, Malison Ndau, told management that he would raise the matter with cabinet before a final decision to float tender invitation is made.
“Surprisingly, he returned to us without any cabinet decision on the matter but in the company of former Information Minister (now Local Government), Nankhumwa and three other people of Indian origin,” said a top Army officer privy to the deal.
According to the source, it later transpired that the two ministers were accompanied by three Leyland Ashok officials whom they claimed were the most qualified suppliers of the required vehicles.
The Leyland officials included Mohan Krishnan, a Mr. Ramachandaran and Partha Chodhuru. Two of them were from Ashok Leyland Headquarters in Chennai, India, while one was from the local franchise in Blantyre.
The officials and the ministers met with MDF’s Director of Logistics Elias Kapalamula and MDF’s Deputy Commander, Griffin Supuni, in mid March 2016 at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe where a provisional agreement was made that Ashok Leyland should supply the required vehicles.
According to initial estimates, each vehicles would cost an average of USD100, 000, approximately MK65 million. The total deal may, therefore, cost the taxpayer a whooping MK32.5 billion minus shipping and other logistic costs.
The deal seemed to have been heading for a halt following the removal of Ndau as Deputy Defence Minister. However the source said his replacement, Agrey Masi, has joined the ‘bandwagon’.
“Nankhumwa has apparently succeeded to hook him (Deputy Defence Minister) up; he is already into it. The Deputy Defence Minister and Nankhumwa recently met two unidentified local Ashok Leyland officials in Blantyre. The two ministers were accompanied by Mr. Kapalamula, where he assured them the deal is done,” the Army officer claimed.
Money is reported to have exchanged hands and now Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe and the Secretary to Treasurer, Ronald Mangani, two influential government officials that may determine the deal goes through are reported to be in loop for their ‘sweetener’.
The MDF is not a stranger to corruption-related matters. On May 11, 2015, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested former Army Commander General Henry Odillo and his former deputy, Lt. Col. Clement Kafuwa in relation to payments that were made to Thuso Investments without supplying services to the Malawi Army.
They were charged with three counts of abuse of public office, negligence by public officer in preserving money or government property and money laundering. They are currently out on bail.
The ACB claimed it had established that the Malawi Army paid close to MK2 billion (about US$4.4m) for the supply of military gear but the company never supplied despite being paid.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :