Former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) director of finance and administration Harry Chawinga has testified in the K2 billion Cashgate case involving former MDF commander Henry Odillo and three other ex-senior military and civilian officials, denying knowledge of the controversial contract.
The case is part of the infamous Cashgate—the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill exposed through the shooting of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on September 13 2013—where about K24 billion was stolen during a randomly chosen six months period auditors covered between April and September 2013.
Standing in the witness box, a former MDF finance and administration officer said he was not informed of the contract despite holding such a position.
Chawinga also said he was not consulted when identifying Thuso Group, a South Africa-based business group which prosecutors say was a fake military equipment supplier and, allegedly, invoiced and received pay from MDF amounting to K920 000 000 and ZAR30 000 000 (K1.5 billion) for supply of ammunition which they did not deliver.
Apart from the accusation of lacking a legitimate contract with Malawi Government and not supplying the ammunition, the Thuso Group deal is also said to have been overpriced.
Chawinga told the court he never saw minutes of the internal procurement committee (IPC) meeting that endorses the Thuso contract.
When cross-examined by lawyers representing Odillo, former deputy MDF commander Clement Kafuwa, former accountant general David Kandoje and Ganizani Kuchombo, the former MDF finance and administration officer said he was not sure whether Odillo personally participated in the selection of Thuso group to supply ammunition.
Titus Mvalo, lawyer defending Odillo, told Chawinga that the former MDF commander was not part of the committee that awarded contracts to suppliers at the army and may not have conspired with Thuso for the ammunition deal.
Chawinga agreed with that assertion but said Odillo may have delegated his deputy to chair the committee.
“At MDF, all IPC meetings are chaired by the deputy commander. This means that even though the general was not part of the IPC, he may have delegated his deputy,” said Chawinga.
Lawyer Mvalo pointed out that it was not Odillo who identified Thuso Group as a supplier but the IPC.
The court also learnt that despite Chawinga denying knowledge of the contract, his signature was on two cheques amounting to K920 million for the payment of items from Thuso Group.
He explained that the director of logistics had already signed for the payment and co-signed on trust.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :