The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has issued five demands against controversial business mogul Abdul Karim Batawarara’s Commercial Agency and Reliance Trading Company one of which is that the company should be banned from transacting business with the Malawi government after Nyasa Times revelations that it is embroiled in serious fraudulent deals.
HRDC says it is appalled that the two aforementioned companies that signed uniform supply contracts with the immigration department in 2012 want to be paid over K54 billion when their contracts’ total price was just over K9 billio.
According to information Nyasa Times has sourced, much as this was the case, the two companies never delivered anything to the department of immigration; and, it is five years now since they were asked to do so.
And in a statement released Friday, signed by HRDC national chairperson, Timothy Mtambo, Batawarara’s questionable demands are a spate of such that have happened in the country’s history with a motive of siphoning billions out of government through dubious claims and inflation of invoices.
Reads the statement in part: “HRDC demands that the Malawi government and its relevant agencies aggressively deal with this latest attempt to abuse Malawi’s hard earned public resources and violating finance and economic management (PFEM) system; brutal violations that have seen 30 percent of national budgets [being] stolen through fraud and mismanagement.
“As HRDC we are shocked as to why the supplier was silent all these years only to start making such unnecessary and unfounded demands after six years. We are forced to suspect that the supplier is taking advantage of a government that tolerated corruption and has shown no political will in ending the same. Now wonder some Malawians are suspecting that this can be a syndicate to defraud the government with full blessings from some government officials.”
Among others, HRDC demands that Mr Abdul Karim Batawarara be investigated by the Anti-Corruption Bureau and that the graft busting body as well as the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) must investigate the award of the contracts under question.
“Government must suspend all current contracts that Africa Commercial Agency and Reliance Trading Company or any firms associated with Mr Karim Batawarara have with the Malawi government until the two companies are cleared,” further demands HRDC.
According to them, should government not comply with their demands, they shall include it as one of the demands in the upcoming nationwide demonstrations scheduled for March.
“The demonstrations shall be against continued plunder of public resources specifically against Mr Karim Batawarara, his two companies and the Peter Mutharika-led government,” warns HRDC.
Nyasa Times first reported about the two companies claiming K53 billion from government and Malawi’s leading daily newspaper, The Nation, has also picked up, reporting that after signing the contract in 2012, nothing came through from the suppliers and the Immigration Department concluded that the Batawarara companies’ silence on the order had invalidated the contract.
But on August 1 2017, the department got separate letters from the two companies both dated July 31 2017 with identical message that the goods the department had ordered would be in Malawi “within the next three weeks” and asked the authorities to facilitate duty free clearance from the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) for the consignments.
This shocked the department because as far as it was concerned the contracts were no longer valid in view of the five years that elapsed without receiving the goods.
The department then wrote the Attorney General (AG) on August 2 2017 seeking legal advice and the AG advised it to reject the goods based on the lapsed time, forcing the suppliers to resort to courts where government is now fighting the matter.
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