Malawi newspaper giant BP&P loses K60m to ‘middleman’

Malawi’s printing and publishing giant, Blantyre Printing and Publishing (BP&P) has lost a cool K60 million to a ‘middleman’ who was going to help them purchase a state of the art printing machine in Italy.

The story is a case of “more from carelessness about truth than from intentionally lying that there is so much falsehood in the world”, to quote 18th century English author Samuel Johnson.

Managing Director Leonnard Chikadya and Dr Tikhala Chibwana, general manager for Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL), a subsidiary of BP&P, have been implicated as the ones who have ‘lost’ the K60 million.

Chikadya: Swindled?

The two men travelled to Italy recently to have a look at the machine and engaged the middle man to finalise the deal on their behalf and paid him the K60 million.

“But the middleman has disappeared, he is nowhere to be seen, they cannot reach him on the phone, he is not even responding to emails and the bosses are panicking now,” said an inside source.

“They have to think of what they will tell the shareholders of what they have done with the K60 million. Because out of the K60 million, they borrowed K50 million from National Bank of Malawi and they are just praying that the middleman resurfaces,” added our source.

Pay hike

The source added Chikadya directed a 10 % increment for staff on Monday.

Staff was expected to get an increment during Easter but it never came only to be given a 10 % raise.

Most staff interviewed confirmed of the salary increment but said they were disappointed as they expected a ‘respectable’ salary raise due to the effects of the recent 49% devaluation of the kwacha.

“It is, in fact an insult for them to give us a 10% raise. If they have messed up with the middleman, then it should not affect us, they get millions at the end of the month and they should be the ones getting this meagre increment not innocent hard working people like us,” said one employee.

More questions than answers

Chikadya and Chibwana will have to scratch their heads harder for an answer if the shareholders (family members of the late first president of Malawi Kamuzu Banda) start asking for an explanation as to how the K60 million was lost.

Chibwana refused to comment when contacted by Nyasa Times saying he was on leave sorting out a family matter.

Chikadya however laughed off the story saying the machine will arrive in the country at the end of August.

“Who told you about that? That’s nonsense and cheap talk, the machine will be here by the end of August if you have your representatives here in Malawi, they should come to see it,” said Chikadya who confirmed travelling to Italy together with Chibwana.

He refused to take more questions on the salary increments and identity of the middleman.

BP&P own BNL which publishes Malawi’s oldest newspaper The Daily Times and four other titles namely Malawi News, Weekend Times, Business Times and The Sunday Times.

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