Malawi’s media giant, Times Group , has declared it sticks to its story that Roads Authority (RA) Chief Executive Officer Trevor Hiwa awarded a K217 million World Bank funded project to his own company called Infracon Limited and will not retract the story even in the face of a threat for defamation lawsuit.
Hiwa has demanded a full apology and retraction of the story which first appeared in Malawi News, then broadcast on Times TV and Radio. He has threatened to take legal action following the accusations if the media giant refuses to apologise.
Times revealed that Hiwa awarded the multi-million kwacha contract to a company which he owns and that the matter has attracted the attention of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
ACB’s Senior Public Relations Officer Egrita Ndala is quoted saying the graft-busting body is “processing and will review the complaint to see if there is merit to warrant its action.”
The Daily Times, another title of Times Group reported that Hiwa wrote Minister of Transport and Public Works Malison Ndau on Monday June 6 2016 informing him of the change of directorship at Infracon Limited, the company where he is a shareholder.
“With reference to the newspaper article, on the above named matter [Directorship at Infracon-Newspaper Article], find attached a special resolution replacing me as Director of the company as per the requirement of the law and my conditions of employment,” writes Hiwa in a memo with reference number RA/06/20/9 as quoted by the paper.
Hiwa then explains his link to Infracon Limited.
“Sir, unfortunately I cannot undo my past as this was the company I was working for before the RA and their main area of business and experience is roads. This fact was fully disclosed to the interview panel as well as to the Board of Directors both old and current. They are a bonafide Malawian company and comply with all relevant laws of Malawi. Submitted for your information and direction,” reads the counclusion of the letter.
The contract No RA/ CON/2015-16/09, which World Bank funded to the tune of US$303 823, was for the design and construction, and supervision services of various roads in Central Region and Southern regions following the floods that devastated the country in 2015 under the Malawi Flood Emergency Recovery Project (MFERP).
Hiwa, who was appointed Chief Executive of the Roads Authority on July 1 2014, has hired law firm Likongwe and Company to take up the legal matter with Times Group.
The lawyers wrote the paper arguing that “there was no corruption” in awarding the contract to Infracon which was formerly called Romana Infrastructure Consultants and it changed to Infracon on February 1 2014, saying “all legal procedures were followed and approvals obtained.”
Likongwe and Company accuse Times Media of impugning on Hiwa’s integrity.
Times Editor-In-Chief George Kasakula has defiantly said there is no question for an apology and asked Hiwa instead to say sorry to the nation for abusing his position for wrongful self-enrichment and “abusing tax payers money for giving a contract to his own company.”
The editorial in the Malawi flagship daily on Friday, the paper said it “thoroughly” checked out the tip and proved Hiwa gave himself the contract and wrote the letter to his company congratulating it.
“Duty called and we told Malawians of this blatant abuse of office for self enrichment with no malice against Hiwa but just to enlighten them that it is what the RA boss, as someone entrucsted with public office, is doing,” reads the editorial.
The editorial states that Hiwa “does not deserve” an apology but rather “ total condemnation” from Malawians.
“We will not be cowed into submission and there is no apology, retraction of our stories or commentaries as we firmly stand by them,” reads the papers comment.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :