Malawi’s anti-graft busting body, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has arrested embattled Roads Authority chief Executive Trevor Hiwa and for corruptly awarding himself a K223 million contract.
Hiwa was netted on Tuesday morning on corruption charges.
He is being accused of recommending Infracon Limited (Hiwa’s company) to the Word Bank to be awarded a contract worth $303,823 (about K223 million at current exchange rate) for the design and supervision of various roads constructions in Central and Southern Regions of Malawi without the approval of Internal Procurement Committee (IPC) and without declaring interest
ACB director General Lucas Kondowe in a telephone interview Tuesday morning confirmed his officers arrested a man suspected to have engaged himself in corrupt dealings but could not be drawn for further comment.
Kondowe, without giving out minute details said: “I can confirm that ACB officers this morning arrested a man suspected to be involved in corrupt act.”
The ACB boss hinted that there will be more arrests to come in the coming days.
“We are doing our best as ACB and we will bring anyone contravening the law in line with corruption to the long arm of justice and we mean anyone.”
But Kondowe asked the people to be patient with the bureau as investigations take too long to finalise saying his officers arrest suspects after gathering enough evidence so that they can be taken to court of law for justice to take its toll.
“We understand people’s frustrations, but they have to understand that we can only arrest suspects based on the evidence we have gathered. It may take long but we promise that we will bring anybody involved in corruption to book and we need the people’s support as the fight on corruption can only be won if the public is involved,” said Kondowe.
Hiwa will be charged with failure to disclose interest in the procurement process contrary to Section 25D (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act and Section 19 (1) of the Public Procurement Act and abuse of public office contrary to Section 25B (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act.
ACB publicist Egrita Ndala who confirmed Hiwa’s arrest in a statement seen by Nyasa Times said on 28 April, the ACB received an allegation that Hiwa and Engineer Sam Kadangwe recommended Infracon Limited (Hiwa’s own company) to be awarded a contract worth $303, 823 (approximately K271 Million) for the design and supervision of various roads constructions in Central and Southern regions of Malawi without the approval of Internal Procurement Committee (IPC and without declaring interest.
“The Bureau establishes that Engineer Hiwa misinformed Engineer Sam Kadangwe that Infracon Limited was cleared by the ODPP and could do business with the Roads Authority,” said Ndala.
Hiwa who holds a Masters degree in Leadership and Change Management form Leeds Metropolitan University and a civil engineering bachelor’s degree from The University of Malawi’s constituent college, The Polytechnic, joined the Roads Authority as CEO on July, 2014.
The Roads Authority Board, a couple of weeks ago suspended Hiwa, following a misprocurement in which he awarded a $303,823 (about K217 million based on the exchange rate then) World Bank project to his own firm called Infrastructure Consultants (Infracon).
Hiwa was suspended from his position after a legal advice from the Attorney General, Kalekeni Kaphale, and findings of a team of investigators whose September 29 2016 report found Hiwa guilty and it was recommended that a punitive disciplinary action be taken against him.
Kaphale however advised the board to give Hiwa a hearing in a disciplinary inquiry and then make a decision that is merited by the findings of fact and the law.
When the media uncovered Hiwa’s dishonesty and duly reported it, he hit back demanding an apology and through his lawyers he threatened to drag media houses reporting on Hiwa’s corrupt act to court.
Several articles appeared in the media including the Malawi’s online giant Nyasa Times and Hiwa reported to Minister of Transport and Public Works informing him of a senior officer, former director of procurement, Dan Kamoto, that was the source of the stories.
Hiwa’s sole decision to end contract of a senior officer, Benjamin Kapoteza, cost the Roads Authority K17 million since the board was not consulted and former Secretary to Treasury, Ronald Mangani, said the Ministry of Finance did preliminary investigations which found that Hiwa was in the wrong.
Nyasa Times understand that Roads Authority Board formed a team of investigators to probe further and that the team comprised Chief Director responsible for Good Governance in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Wezi Kayira as Chairperson and Chief State Advocate in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Richard Santhe.
The team also comprised of Director of Human Resources Management and Development, Hilario Chimota and Deputy Director in the Office of the Director of Public Procurement, Edward Jeke.
The Team also found wrong doing in the award of the contract.
“The Team further established that Hiwa as the controlling officer was fully aware and involved in the processes leading to the award of the contract to Infracon Limited contrary to (a) World Bank’s Procurement framework in the PAD (Procurement Appraisal Document) and other associated guidelines; (b) Public Procurement Act, 2003; (c) RA’s Conditions of Service; (d) the employment contract and (e) the RA Code of Conduct and Ethics,” reads the document in part.
The report adds: “He [Hiwa] may, therefore, be liable to disciplinary action in line with RA’s Conditions of Service and his employment contract.”
Corruption poses a serious challenge in the development of Malawi and the Southern African impoverished country suffers from various types of corruption – from high level political corruption to petty bribery that impedes service delivery and patronage and nepotism that exacerbates inequality and poverty in Malawi society.
Corruption is seen to be particularly severe in the police, registry and permit services, customs, and the judiciary. There are also reports of widespread corruption and extortion by public officials in procurement.
While some of the corruption measurement metrics indicate that Malawi has been making progress on the anti-corruption front in recent years, the country is still marred by high levels of political corruption.
Institutions such as the judiciary, the office of the ombudsman and the anti-corruption bureau are seen as being effective in investigating and prosecuting lower level corruption cases.
However, experts have raised strong concerns about their treatment of politically significant persons and interests.
The launch of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy in 2008 is thought to have brought many improvements to the anti-corruption framework of the country.
Malawi is seen to have strong anti-corruption laws and institutions and initiatives by the private sector complement the governmental efforts.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :