Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) elite is so desperate for party financing that it has turn to sink its claws into conglomerate Press Corporation Limited (PCL) to turn it into its financing machine, Nyasa Times can reveal.
Malawi News reported that some DPP stalwarts have been appointed into the PCL board with the aim of controlling its finances and diverting them to fund the beleaguered ruling party.
Architect Ben Chidyaonga who is DPP Director of Logistics and a former cabinet minister during the late Bingu Mutharika regime and member of the DPP party Professor Peter Mwanza have been appointed into the PCL board of directors which many analysts see as the party repositioning itself to turn the conglomerate as a financing machine.
The two were trustees at Press Trust, a majority shareholder of PCL with 44.47% shareholding, and their two six-year consecutive term expired in July 2015 but they still clung to their positions while DPP strategists found a way of letting them into the Press system by appointing them into the PCL board.
Nyasa Times managed to secure an exclusive interview with one of the current trustees on the condition of anonymity to shed more light in what is happening in the whole Press Trust/PCL saga.
“It is indeed true that my former colleagues and trustees namely Mr. Ben Chidyaonga and Prof Peter Mwanza have been appointed into the PCL board of Directors. In fact Mr. Chidyaonga takes his post from April 1, 2016 to replace Director Dr Bernard Zingano while Prof Mwanza goes to PCL board sometime in June to replace the Symon Itaye as director on the PCL board,” said the trustee.
“We have appointed lawyer Meyer Chisanga and Wilson Chirwa, a Surveyor, to replace our two collegues as trustees,” added the trustee.
But there was controversy for Chidyaonga and Mwanza to leave Press Trust after the two clung to their positions although, legally, their terms had expired.
Section 6 (a) of PTRA specifically stipulates that the total number of trustees appointed at any one time shall be seven individuals who shall comprise a Board of Trustees and that if the number shall fall below seven, the remaining trustees cannot conduct any Trust business except that of appointing a new Trustee or Trustees until the number is once again seven.
But Chidyaonga and Mwanza continued attending meetings and performing functions as trustees of Press Trust with total disregard of the law.
The two only left Press Trust almost 9 months after they were supposed to retire.
They were first appointed Trustees in July 2003 on a six year term and were re-appointed in July 2009 on the last six year term according to Section 6(h) (iii).
But why ‘transferring’ the two trustees who are also influential politicians in the ruling party to PCL?
“DPP are struggling to get a stable financier because of the recent exposé of cashgate and that is why they are turning to PCL to finance the party. They were having difficulties in getting the money here at Press Trust because this institution is governed by the Press Trust Reconstruction Act (PTRA) of 1995. It would be easier to manipulate issues at PCL since there will be more members who will be representing the interests of Press Trust, where these two are coming from,” said the trustee.
Currently directors who are nominated or represent the interests of Press Trust on the PCL board include Simon Itaye who is the current Chairman of the PCL board, Patrick Mhango who is the Executive Secretary for Press Trust and Dr Bernard Zingano, a Chartered Architect, while Chris Kapanga, a Chartered Insurer represents interests of Old Mutual which holds 13.5% shares in PCL while Andrew Barron, an experienced farmer and investor is an independent director on the board.
“So when they replace Mr. Itaye and Dr Zingano with Prof Mwanza and Mr. Chidyaonga plus the vote of Mr. Mhango they will be able to control things there and get their way, which is why they have been appointed directors at PCL. They could not have done that here (Press Trust),” said the trustee.
Insiders confided in Nyasa Times that the new board would like to ‘control and take charge’ first with the appointment of PCL new Group Chief Executive Officer following the retirement of Dr Matthews Chikaonda who is leaving the conglomerate in December this year after 14 years in charge.
The PCL board hired private financial advisory firm, KPMG to recruit the new Group Chief Executive Officer for PCL and flighted adverts of the same in February this year and they are yet to identify a person to take over from Chikaonda.
“They would want to control who goes to PCL as Group Chief Executive Officer. It has to be their own person and that is why there are all these changes within this short period of time. The board will have to endorse the candidate and that is why Mr. Chidyaonga is taking his position as early as April 1, 2016,” revealed the trustee.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :