Children of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika feel government is all out to persecute them on political grounds by freezing their bank accounts and to have deceased estate Bineth Trust declared public.
A source close to the family told Nyasa Times that they feel government wants to squeeze them on the belief that they bankroll opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which is led by Bingu’s brother, Peter.
Their concerns comes after government through courts have moved to have Bineth Trust declared public and become a replica of Press Trust, which was initially established as a public trust but operated and was used as a personal entity of Malawi’s founding president, the late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
“We don’t support DPP. Yes we support our uncle Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika’s right to aspire for presidential office but Bineth Trust does not in anyway fund his activities of DPP,” declares Bingu’s daughter Duwa.
She protested that government’s move to have the Bineth trust into public is to leave them destitute.
Duwa also said their movements are being restricted, saying officers of Department of Immigration descended upon her house on Malawi’s Independence Day demanding that her passport be surrendered but she challenged the matter through lawyer Kalekeni Kaphale and will be allowed to exchange at a later date.
The office of the Attorney General (AG) on Tuesday commenced proceedings at the Commercial Division of the High Court in the capital, Lilongwe for a declaration that the Bineth Trust is a charitable trust and sought an injunction restraining its trustees from carrying out their duties.
Justice Ken Manda granted an ex-parte injuctinon which effectively stops all trustees of the Trust from exercising their positions until the courts review the application to turn Bineth Trust into a public trust.
The judge also granted an order that Mutharika family should declare all assets owned by Bineth Trust in Malawi or/and abroad.
But lawyer for Mutharika’s family and the one of the Bineth Trust administrators, Kalekeni Kaphale said they will mount a vigorous challenge to the issue.
Kaphale said there are “some individuals inside the government who are seeking Bingu’s wealth.”
Peter Mutharika has been claiming “government is into property grabbing” of his deceased brother’s property. Bingu died of cardiac arrest while serving as president on April 5, 2012.
Government has been fighting to collect estate duty from Mutharika’s wealth through the courts after private evaluator Yeremiah Chihana estimated the late president’s wealth to be over K61 billion.
Government, through Estate Commissioner, froze all but one bank accounts belonging to the former president Mutharika over unpaid K5 billion (about $12.5m) estate duty from an estate estimated at K61 billion (about $152m) according to a government-hired valuer Yeremia Chihana.
But the bank accounts were unlocked last week after the signing of consent order, which among other things, the Mutharika family committed to pay the estate duty after a reevaluation of the estate by a properly vetted valuer. Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :