Banda’s ‘well-wishers’ threaten activists Ntata, Chiza with lawsuit

Controversy prone Ichikowitz family, on record to be the publicity-shy “well-wishers” footing the bill for President Joyce Banda’s image sprucing costs, owners of the firm that recently supplied patrol boats for Lake Malawi and now reported to be flying Banda around in a jet that the Malawi leadeer “sold” and vowed never to use; ended year 2013 on a high note.

The family threatened Malawi’s political activists, Z Allan Ntata and Ben Chiza Mkandawire, with a lawsuit should the two not bow down to the family’s demands and “refrain from publishing any defamatory allegations about the Ichikowitz family.”

The letter, attached to this story, attests to this development.

Chia Mkandawire: Vows to fight on

Chia Mkandawire: Vows to fight on

 Z. Allan Ntata: Produced a report on 'cash-gate' scandal

Z. Allan Ntata: Produced a report on ‘cash-gate’ scandal

The crime ‘committed’ by activists Ntata and  Chiza Mkandawire is merely seeking to hear from the jet mongering family on the following issues, before publishing:

  • On the Patrol Boat contract with Malawi: If indeed the boats sold to Malawi were second hand and what the total contract amount was. And, if the boats were “brand new”, why they were immediately sent for “repairs” and who would foot the cost of repairing the “brand new boats.
  • On Bell Pottinger: the Family was to clarify why President Joyce Banda’s image needed ‘laundering’, if it were clean.
  • On Malawi’s sovereignty: In which election did Malawians mandate Mr Ivor Ichikowitz to run their affairs or serve as President Banda’s puppet masters.
  • On the sale of the Malawi presidential jet: What the deal was all about and why the secrecy and use of middlemen and smokescreens.
  • On Cash-gate: If the family’s “philanthropic activities for poor Malawi” include helping President Joyce Banda launder Cash gate money.

Z Allan Ntata, speaking to this reporter, said that the Ichikowitz family has not stopped at using their lawyers, ENSAfrica – Africa’s largest law firm.

President  Banda’s rich friends went personal during the festive season and called Chiza Mkandawire not to wish him “a merry Christmas and Happy New Year”, but in a blatant but futile attempt to bully him into silence.

Ichikowitz warned Chiza Mkandawire saying: “Our involvement in Malawi is only business and be very careful if you publish anything about us because we will make sure our lawyers pursue the matter.”

Messrs Z Allan Ntata, barrister and chronicler of the widely read “Licence to Loot” and Ben Chiza Mkandawire, an evergreen activist, have vowed not to rest until they find answers to among other things, these questions:

1)      Since there is no such a thing as a free meal, what is the (hidden) cost that Malawians will pay for the Ichikowitz family’s ‘generosity’ to President Joyce Banda vis-à-vis the huge Bell Pottinger bill that the Ichikowitz family paid?

2)      How independent, how free of conflict of interest and how free of duress was President Joyce Banda’s decision to give the family’s company an order for patrol boats in the light of Andrew Feinstein`s (a former MP with South Africa’s ANC and author of “The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade”) assertion that defence companies typically gain a foothold in developing countries by offering a range of other services through associated companies?

3)       Now that is has been revealed that Pres Joyce Banda did not in fact, sell the jet, and that apparently Malawi owes the rich family money, how can Pres Joyce Banda and the secretive family convince the world that the funds realised from chartering the plane are indeed being used to reduce Malawi’s debt so that when this debt is fully settled, Malawians can reclaim their jet?

4)      Since one of the clients of the jet chartering is now Banda, how exactly is Pres Joyce Banda footing the personal cost of her excursions like the one to Nigeria, in order not to unduly worsen Malawi’s arrears to the family?

All these questions are hounding the minds of Malawians and beyond, especially with revelations that the Ichikowitz Family’s Paramount Group is the covert owner of the Bohnox Enterprise Ltd, a company registered in the British Virgin Island and that Bohnox Enterprise Ltd “bought” the Malawi Presidential Jet and then passed it on to Paramount Group, who have not paid a cent due to an alleged old debt.

Malawi’s flagship publication, The Nation  nailed the case in linking the “sale” of Malawi’s 15-year-old Dassault Falcon 900-EX (MSN 38 | 7Q-ONE), to the very same plane Pres Joyce Banda is globe-trotting in.

Earlier on Mr Ichikowitz, responding to separate enquiries from the Telegraph to confirm its interest in Malawi, said:“The Family Foundation believes that President Banda is a force for good in Malawi and that she is striving to improve the lives of all Malawians.  It is keen for her efforts to be duly recognised by the international community and fairly represented in the international media.”

He added: “There is absolutely no relationship between contracts undertaken by Paramount Group and its companies and any charitable work undertaken by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation.”

However, his assertion has been found wanting in several quarters with Alex Vines, from the Chatham House think tank, describing the influence being exerted by Mr Ichikowitz and his companies on Pres Joyce Banda as “worrying”.

Sir Malcolm Bruce, chair of the UK’s International Development Select Committee, which recommended that direct aid be resumed after Mrs Banda came to power, said her apparent spending priorities were “concerning”.

Remarking on the shady purchase of patrol boats, he pointed out that donors will not be keen on supporting military expenditure and efforts to divert aid for that resource could lead to a cut in aid and a review of all future support.

South Africa-based Paramount Group specialises in manufacturing armoured vehicles as well as selling off surplus South African military equipment from the apartheid years.

The Ichikowitz family is no stranger to controversy, with Paramount’s chair Ivor Ichikowitz implicated in the controversial Oil-for-Food programme in the aftermath of the Gulf War, and in violating arms control rules in exports to several countries, including Angola and Ghana.

Ntata and Chiza Mkandawire have vowed to pursue President  Banda´s refusal to govern accountably with even more vigour in this New Year 2014 and to equally fight for Malawi’s sovereignty against international predators.paramount letter

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