Peter Mutharika pleads innocence in City housing scam: ‘I followed correct steps to purchase land’

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader Peter Mutharika has denied any wrongful act in a multi-million kwacha housing scam at Lilongwe City Council.

According to published reports on Tuesday, Mutharika was named as one of the customers who bought a house which Lilongwe City Council sold illegally in 2006 when he was Minister in his late brother, Bingu wa Mutharika was State President.

The city’s audit report named  Mutharika, the late Donton Mkandawire and Bineth Trust of former president Bingu wa Mutharika who bought public houses without proper procedures and  despite not being sitting tenants.

A report by the National Audit Office dated February, 2013, also indicates that as at 26th June, 2006 Bineth Trust bought houses numbered Njewa 3/028 along Glyn Jones Road at K4.8 million, Njewa 3/048 along Glyn Jones Road at K3.3 million, Njewa 3/146 along Mtunthama Drive at K3.7 million and Alimaunde 12/177 along Kaduya Road at K5.3 million.

Peter Mutharika: Says he has not broken any law

Peter Mutharika: Says he has not broken any law

But Mutharika denied any wrong-doing saying the house that is being referred to was “inhabitable and in very poor condition.”

Through his public relations office called the ‘pursuit of happiness’,  Mutharika  said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times that  he followed the natural process of applying for the plot and the City Assembly’s offer letter included the pictures of the house in order to show the poor condition of the home on the plot and that it would not be under the seating tenant rules and regulation.

“It is quite clear that if the residence was in good condition fit to be lived in, it could have been occupied,” he argued.

However, he noted that the city council  report shown pictures of roof falling, broken toilets indicating on the defects that  “several defects noted during inspection as the property is in a bad repair state and has been extensively vandalized with broken glass and missing lower panes in many windows, damaged doors, cupboards and other wooden fitting, leaking roof, torn fly screens, missing electrical fitting, missing mortise locks, damaged sagging and stared ceiling boards, defective garage door, property requires internal decoration, damaged sanitary fittings, termite attack on woodwork, rusty roof sheets and vandalized kitchen.”

He said the house was inhabitable “and if the city requires tenants to move in into these living conditions it would be inhuman. “

At the time of purchase, the house was vacant because of its dilapidated condition therefore nullifying the seating tenant rules and regulations, according to Mutharika.

“ If there were specific procedures required after the sale of the house, the seller should have known the procedures to tell the buyer before the close of the sale of any mandates.  Since an application was made, an offer letter from the city was sent to the buyer and a report was provided, the buyer knew that he needed to renovate the home to meet the standards of his specifications before occupying it.  There is nothing illegal about the sale and every required steps were followed,” said Mutharika.

The DPP presidential candidate through his PR team said in the statement that the story which appeared in the Daily Times  “is clearly one of the schemes  to tarnish Professor Peter Mutharika’s image which will not work.”

The statement  described Mutharika as a noble man and citizen “who has not broken any law ” and that he has “not participated in any illegal transaction of any kind. “

Reads the statement: “ The Investigative Audit of Financial Records and Other Information for Lilongwe City Council needs to have all the information reviewed and corrected to portray the correct picture of this transaction.  The recommendation stated in the newspaper that ‘since the government conditions on sale of institutional houses were contravened, management should withdraw the sale’ has no grounds.  A copy of the valuation report mentioned in the newspaper that it was ‘not produced by management’ is intact by buyer and has been made available to the media and the public.”

The statement pointed out that as the presidential candidates are going in full force during the campaigns , malicious reports be minimized to allow the voters to know them personally and make a fair based decision on who they will choose for president.

When he was minister, Mutharika and others in cabinet including John Bande were implicated in another multi-million kwacha housing scam.

About 22 houses where shared among ministers Mutharika and Bande and senior officials at MHC, a parastatal.

in the scam, Mutharika enjoyed a 62 per cent  discount , Bande got a 49 per cent discount while former MHC General Manager Golden Matiya  got a 33 per cent discount.

Matiya was arrested and indicted on the matter but the prosecution on the matter  was unsuccessful.

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