Malawi Police Service fiscal department has arrested controversial deputy commissioner general at Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Roza Mbilizi on allegation of abuse of office and bootleg deals at the public tax collector.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed the arrest, adding that Mbilizi was being kept at Blantyre Police Station.
Among other issues that Mbilizi is being probed is sale of MRA houses and how she facilitated clearance of the duty-free 400 000 bags of cement worth K3.2 billion which immediate former president Peter Mutharika imported from Zambia and Zimbabwe between 2018 and 2019.
Legal experts questioned the volume involved on the “personal use” provision in the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act and called for an investigation.
The Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act allows the President “duty free importation of items for personal use”.
Many goods were reported being cleared in the name of Mutharika and involved in bootleg deals with Asian business persons such as Farook Gani of Victoria Hotel and Victoria Pharmaceticals.
In the initial transaction in November 2018, the President bought 20 000 metric tonnes (MT) or 200 000 bags of cement worth $2 240 000 (about K1.68 billion) from PTC Zimbabwe Limited duty-free. In the second transaction. in July 2019, Mutharika bought the same quantity from Prestige Export based at Chipata in Zambia.
In a letter responding to the State Residences request, dated November 28 2018, MRA deputy commissioner of technical customs and excise Abigail Kamwamba approved the transaction and advised that the cement should be allowed into the country from previously Lilongwe Port to Dedza and Mchinji.
The arrest of Mbilizi comes after President Lazarus Chakwera has already named her “provisional” replacement in tax lawyer Henry Ngutwa responsible for revenue.
The President has also appointed John Bizwick as MRA Commissioner General and Agness Katsonga as deputy responsible for administration.
The appointments are subject to approval by a MRA board.
Chakwera said the appointments are only made to function in an acting capacity “until the Board is reconstituted and in place to make permanent appointments.”
Said the President: “I have made these provisional appointments to stop the free-for-all pilferage of taxes and the destruction of evidence that have been taking place there in the last few weeks, crimes which need to be stopped as a matter of urgency.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :