The tweaks of Assets Declaration in Malawi

The way Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika goes back and forth on almost every issue is legendary, in fact award-winning. Malawians have in mind the issue of presidential salary hikes; appointments of parastatal board members; the issue of diplomatic appointments; and now the issue of his assets declaration.Loose cannon

Not long ago, the office of the Director of Assets Declaration made known the assets of President Peter Mutharika and other top public officials, of course after a request by some well-meaning Malawians.

This is when we knew that our beloved President is a billionaire (or is it multi-millionaire) with assets and bank accounts spread around the world. The assets include a house that Mutharika said he bought in 1982 at the price of US$750,000.00.

Obviously, the value of this house today is not the same as it was when Mutharika bought it. Real estate often appreciates in value as years go by. You would therefore expect the value to have quadrupled over the 30 years that our President has owned it.

It was unsettling, therefore, when reports from ‘very reliable sources’ suggested that houses in the part of suburbia where Peter Mutharika has his apartment are worth not more than US$400 today. As if this was not enough, Malawians were also hit by information from the Office of the Director of Assets Declarations that Mutharika’s assets were actually ‘mis-declared’.

Malawians were told our President did not have US$8 million in his US bank account, but US$2 million, and that he is not a billionaire after all like it was initially reported. Neither Mutharika nor his trusted aide, Ben Phiri, have come out to speak about this assets mis-declaration, or even to clarify about the real value of the US house, which does not seem to dovetail with the prevailing variables.

But typical us, Malawians, we have once again left this issue to drift down with the water as another none-issue. We have once again put our hands in the pockets and still whistle softly like nothing is happening.

But looking at this issue critically in relation to Mutharika’s governing style and his decision-making processes, a familiar pattern is emerging that is revealing, not a mistake, but a heinous plot that might just have gone bonkers due to pressure of circumstances.

The notion that the Office of the Director of Assets Declaration mistook the dollar sign, $,on Mutharika’s declaration for a figure 8, is pretty feeble, as it is wanting. Does that mean an office like that, which was set up by a whole Act of Parliament, just takes numbers at their face value without even carrying its own additions or verifying the amounts?

Surely, is this a good office with some lawyer at the helm? How many other mistakes has Mr. Chris Tukula made apart from the one on Mutharika’s declaration? How does Mutharika explain the inconsistency in value of his US house? How does he begin to explain buying a US$750,000 house in 1982, which may now be worth just US$350,000? Something, in fact many things, are simply not adding up here.

The question one is tempted to ask is, what is President Mutharika really up to?

President Mutharika must have been shocked by the resultant furore that his ‘mis-declaration’ created. It is possible that he and his cronies overlooked the fact that Lingson Belekanyama and his Parliamentary Finance Committee have powers to investigate and verify these declarations. The only damage control measure, therefore, was to put pressure on Tukula to revise down the value (s) and then own the ‘mistake’.

This whole [mis-declaring and lying] fiasco gives away a high handed plot by Mutharika whose only objective is to accumulate sinful wealth for himself at the expense of Malawians.

Were it not for the furore the declaration created, Mutharika’s wealth would have been inflated by a whopping K3.2 billion. It is a mark-up the President intends to ‘earn’ over the next three years, and that is no small change.

Where is this money going to come from? The answer obviously lies where the ocean meets the sky. Even at K800 million, Peter Mutharika would not have allowed his brother, Bingu, to be at the constant mercy of Atcheya during the UDF campaign days prior to 2004.

DPP could not have struggled the way it did during the last tripartite elections with regard to funding. The DPP nearly failed to hold a nomination certificate presentation function for its parliamentary candidates at Robins Park in Blantyre because there was no K300, 000 to pay for the venue.

One thing may be true, probably. Mutharika’s claimed assets have been accumulated over the year that he has been in government—and that is a fast lane.

As a people, Malawians must develop a critical mind because if we continue on this path, developing this country would be like searching for a proverbial needle in a haystack. All the pretentious nonsense from State House must be treated with a pinch of salt that it deserves.

Otherwise, our political space will continue to breed pathological liars and sycophants. For how long are we going to stand aside and look whilst our beautiful motherland is being auctioned for 30 pieces of shekels?

“You can fool some people some times but you can’t fool all the people all the time” ― Bob Marley

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chingolopiyo
Guest
Zondiwe on comment 40, you are still asleep . How much is the cost of a bare plot in Chilimba or Lunzu. A plot is costing more than MK7 million, without any structure. People are not responding to what you think is a big issue to you, yet it is not. It shows how poor thinking you are and you can not even know the cost of a piece of land to built a house. A house value can go up even if it was built in 1980 as long as the house is renovated, put in new and better… Read more »
Zondiwe
Guest
A President or Presidential aides cannot “mis-write” the $ sign instead of 8. This cannot happen in any civilized society. If Tukula accepts this nonsense, then his head should be examined like Lutepo’s was examined. I earlier on wrote about the President’s house in Nyambadwe being valued at K7million. None of you has shown any interest in this house, or even the figure. You are just busy writing about other things, rather than following a line of enquiry to the end. You Malawians love leaving issues hanging. There is something wrong with you as well. When will you resolve this… Read more »
makito
Guest

Abale, kumudzi tikuberedwa ndi a Pulezidenti, Nduna zaboma, a bizinesi, apolisi ndi anthu wamba. Kunja tikukhapidwa ndi eni dziko. Tithawira kuti? Are we this helpless. Cant we stand up at least against the President whom we elect? Shame. Shame indeed.

makito
Guest

It is really disheartening that even after APM said infact did NOT have $8m in the bank account, people still defend his initial declaration with such stupid and illogical reasoning. Koma school yake it you people went to?

Zgambo
Guest

Wo Vinidwa Ine…….you have come out to defend this mbuzi….how would you compare APM with Franklin…..just consider the timing and wake up now that you are in 21st Century.

Stop manipulating facts when it is clear that APM amassed his wealth in Malawi as opposed to what you are holding him to be. A professor is a Professor basi ndi mphunzitsi uyu.

Mccarthy
Guest

Mudakana Chakwera, Don’t cry ” you need 2feel the vibe & more 4 years 2come, amalawi kusamva.

patricia
Guest
A well written article with objectivity. The problem with Malawians is that we remain to be the most docile and meek rot. We hero worship even when we see wrongs being done. You have the likes of Jere , Magede si wandale aka Chancy Chingwalungwalu who will defend APM as if he is God. This man was a mere professor and to become a billionaire raises many questions. Malawians need to be vigilante and hold our leaders accountable. If it wasn’t for the up roar APM would have got away with murder. Just imagine a whooping $8 million of our… Read more »
wo Vinidwa ine
Guest

Iwe Patricia: “This man was a mere professor…?” – unreasonable presumption that he could not have invested his money wisely. Like into his family’s law firm. Becoming a full professor at a top notch university is America is not simple undertaking, a sis.
Queestion: how well do you really understand the world of academia, and finances in the States? FYI: a billion Kwacha is only two and half million dollars – achievable over the long haul (like APM’s stay there), with wise investing and, much luck too.
Please stick to things you know.

johnM
Guest

If he indeed invested his money wisely, why is he submitting false declarations? Professors in the United States do earn a lot of money, however you will agree with me that they are not the richest people in America

ujeni
Guest

Reaping were he did not sow. Another swindler in our midist.

ujeni
Guest

Zondiwe, you are not the only one, only people fron Thyolo understand what he mumbles the mumble jumble

wo Vinidwa ine
Guest

Well, one of the most effective and celebrated American presidents is Franklin Roosevelt. He had a debilitating handicap, but that did not seem to slow him down, in terms of governing. And one of the recent Canadian Prime Ministers, and also one of the most popular in recent memory, has an asymmetrical face – a physical handicap.
Are you perfect, Sir?

chingolopiyo
Guest
Thom, you are right with the quote. You can fool other people but you can’t fool all. I think the article has some information that wants to fool other readers. Where on earth can you buy a house at us$400? Not all houses depreciate in value because of age. For example, John Terry bought a house and refurbished it and made a 10 million profit, this is a simple example. Have you not heard the term adding value? You can add value to your old house by refurbishing , putting in high quality material in it, you can’t sell it… Read more »
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