Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Kezzie Msukwa, his deputy Abida Mia and Minister of Homeland Security on Friday visited a Police C Company site in Lilongwe where World Wide Construction Limited is constructing 140 police houses but said they seek review of the deal in which 20 hectares of land was bartered for the project.
Msukwa said they want the deal to be reviewed and that Cabinet will get a consensus on how to proceed with the infrastructure.
“Barter deal is a non-starter,” said Msukwa.
Chimwendo Banda also echoed Msukwa, saying there is need to review the deal.
“We are not battering this land. If anything the whole thing must be looked again,” he said.
He said government will be keen to renegotiate the deal because they want to build new houses for the law enforcers.
The ministers were impressed that the project has already taken off but requested the contractor to put a sign post on the site.
According to the deal of the land seen by Nyasa Times, the contractor would construct 140 three bed roomed dwelling houses, office blocks, an armoury, a shooting range, a garage plus inspection pit, parade and football grounds, a multipurpose hall at various locations to be agreed with Malawi Police Services.
Under terms of the deal, which was signed by the previous government, involves construction of an extra 160 three bed roomed dwelling houses at the National Police Headquarters in Area 30 Lilongwe.
The barter-deal also means the contractor would construct desegregated houses for up to 150 males and 140 females that will accommodate up to eight persons per room with parking for four armoured vehicles at Area 6 in Lilongwe.
But the ministers said they would want the deal be reviewed by Attorney General Dr Chikosa Silungwe on its legality.
Authorities say the deal is legally binding with consultations done for period of about two years with representation at both senior and technical level during the previous regime.
Key ministries and institutions involved in the consultations were Ministry of Homeland , Lands , Ministry of Transport , Ministry of Finance , Ministry of Justice which vetted, Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) and the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).
Wadi & Associates, lawyers for the for the project who are specialist attorneys in construction contracts and land law, said confirmed the negotiations took very long to ensure compliance with all legal requirements as well as standsrds and specifications of the buildings.
The Attonneys also mentioned that the (construction in exchange if land project” involved an aspect of public disposal and Section 38 (2) (c) of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act was duly complied.
As the agreement had a time clause, implementation of the agreement commenced forthwith and there has been part performance of the contract in respect of planning, drawings, mobilization of materials and equipment and actual construction works.
The plans and drawings were duly processed and there were approved by Lilongwe City Council.
Observers say it would be economical for government to uphold the contract which would have made it possible for Police to acquire modern houses for their staff.
It is generally undisputed that the area where PMF is located in Area 2 is no longer suitable for use as a residential area.
Efforts to get a comment from the Worldwide Company were unsuccessful.
This is a second time a barter-deal with Malawi government has become controversial.
Former president Joyce Banda had signed also weapon procurement deal with South Africa’s Paramount Group to supply Malawi with equipment that includes seven interceptor boats and training for the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) bartering a presidential jet.
However, the deal was cancelled in August 2013 by former president Peter Mutharika, as it was seen to be substantially over-valued while its repayment terms were unsustainable for the struggling economy.
However, after concluding its probe of the deal, the government decided to renegotiate terms instead of cancelling it.
The government discovered that ex-President Banda had violated the constitution by barter-trading the Dassault Falcon 900EX jet, valued at $15 million, to a Paramount Group subsidiary as part of the settlement for the arms deal. The jet was sold in 2012.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :