Former president Peter Mutharika apparent defence on cement importation saga will come to question after Lilongwe-based businessman Samudeni Bonongwe has dragged him to the High Court’s commercial division for failure to honour contractual obligations on payments to Mutharika’s several housing projects in which he was supplying cement and other materials.
According to the Bonongwe, of the Bonongwe Building Contractors, his lawyer Khimwa Mchizi has already lodged the matter with the court demanding K135 million.
Bonongwe claims that he orally entered into an agreement with Mutharika in 2018 through his security aide Norman Chisale in several housing projects for the former president where he was only building and Mutharika providing materials including cement.
The houses include the beachside Mangochi’s retirement home christened as Nyekhwe Palace, houses at Mapanga , Nyambadwe in Blantyre and Area 43 in Lilongwe.
Bonongwe claims that Mutharika has only managed to pay K30 million from the K165 million agreed fee.
Mutharika – a law professor – appeared to be distancing himself from the cement-gate, paying way for his personal legal defence, arguing he is a victim of identity fraud.
He said the cement importation controversy is a tax evasion matter that has to be dealt as such between Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and whoever brought the cement .
“I am even failing to finish the front and that side behind because I don’t have cement. The point is that I was not aware of it or how it happened, how it was financed,” he said.
But according to Bonongwe, the former president was providing cement to the contractor for a number of houses built for him.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to reject his request to unfreeze bank accounts.
ACB froze bank accounts of Mutharika, his wife Gertrude, step son; Tadikira, former security aide Norman Chisale two months ago as part of investigations of corruption.
ACB director Reyneck Matemba said the state could not unfreeze the bank accounts because investigations on cementgate were still going on.
“But the bureau can allow him to make small withdrawals for his living expenses, the law allows that,” said Matemba.
The bureau is investigating allegations that the former president used his duty free status to import billions of kwacha worth of cement, an allegation Mutharika denies.
Mutharika told journalists recently that he is surviving because some well-wishers are helping him but sources say he is using his the Democratic Progressive Party money, whose bank account he is the sole signatory.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :