President Lazarus Chakwera has differed with his media and communications team at State House for rushing to dismiss a Nyasa Times story on payments to Crossroads Hotel for $300 a night accommodation for foreign guests, saying he welcomes Anti-Corruption bureau (ACB) investigations into the alleged abuse of public funds.
The presidential press secretary Brian Banda said State House could not make a comment on the matter when the story was revealed as this would be “dignifying fake news” that would not be of interest to Malawians.
But Chakwera after Crossroads Hotel has confirmed that State House paid K12.5 million for accommodation for four guests at its Lilongwe unit, has backed the investigations “to separate facts from fiction on the basis of evidence so that Malawians can be assured of the truth from an objective perspective that is free of interference from interested parties.”
Banda said “it has come to the attention of the President that the allegations of abuse of funds at State House will be the subject of an inquiry by the Anti-Corruption Bureau.”
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Gift Trapence said it was “utterly, utterly wrong for State House to first dismiss the mater as fake and then later started giving contradicting information.”
One of the hotel’s directors Sameer Sacranie confirmed that State Residences paid a cheque of K12.5 million from a State House account.
The other bills were being settled by cash from State House guests who were booked at the Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe in July under the name Miguel Elias of Chitundu Distributors based in Blantyre – a staunch supporter of Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
The four guests were still at the hotel but have moved from $300 per night rooms to one at $90 per night.
Meanwhile, Youth and Society (YAS) executive director Charles Kajoloweka has said the civil society organisations are “comforted” by the fact that the graft-busting body has already instituted investigations into the matter.
He said the “conflicting information” between State House and Crossroads Hotel on the matter is raising more questions than answers.
Initially, Crossroads Hotel’s management had dismissed the allegations that it had received payment from State House before reportedly withdrawing the statement and indicating that it had received a K12.5 million cheque from the same client.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :