After Nyasa Times reported that Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) boss Ralph Kamoto h suspended commissioner for exports Shadrec Namalomba for facilitating to clear nine trucks belonging to ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Noel Masangwi of round wood from Chikangawa meant for export, it has been revealed that the DPP heavyweight silenced MRA officials from doing their job following the seizure of his trucks.
President Peter Mutharika is on record describing Masangwi as a “smuggler” in a leaked gossip talk.
According to a report in the Saturday’s edition of Malawi News, Masangwi slighted off MRA’s Flexible Anti Smuggling Team (FAST) manager for the south,Tamandani Mainjeni on February 18 2015 when she went to check if the trucks that carried the timber but were parked at his (Masangwi’s)Elvis Freight premises were still there.
The newspaper relied on a document which Mainjeni wrote to the commissioner of Customs an Excise,also details how Masangwi used his power get back the seized timber.
“Four 40 containers carrying Mukula and belonging to Ahadi Luhanga and honourable Masangwi were seized by Lilongwe FAST on 29th January,2015. These are containers numbers GESU 51118500, ECMU 9529501, CMAU 4058371 and ECMU 9690244”, reads the report signed by Mainejni and dated February 19 2015.
According to Mainjeni when the containers were seized, she was advised by Namalomba on February 7,2015 that they should ne handed over to Blantyre FAST pending finalisation of the cases.
The report says arrangements were made by Lilongwe FAST to have the containers escorted by police officers on February 8,2015. The containers arrived in Blantyre during the night of February 8 and 9,2015 and were deposited at Elvis Freight Temporary store which also belongs to Masangwi
On February 9 2015 the police escorting the containers handed over copies of seizure order to Mainjeni and she visited the temporary store on the same day to confirm the arrival of the containers, reads the report.
“Whilst I was waiting for the finalisation of the case file, I was called on my official mobile phone by my Deputy Commissioner Enforcement on 18th February,2015 asking me about where the contatiners were and on the position of the case files and if payment was made. I told him that they were deposited at Elvis Freight Temporary store and that in my understanding by virtue that there is a ban on the logs, I would not expect the owners to pay duty on the banned goods…….but only a fine for the conveyance”, reads the report.
The report adds “He later instructed me to check if the containers were still at Elvis Freight temporary store. I went to Elvis Freight temporary store the very same day (18.2.2015) and disovered outright that the above mentioned containers were not there even before I asked the clerks that were present. I met one of the workers, Mr Rodrick Masangwi, who confirmed that the trucks were not there but could not give further information”, the report adds.
Mainjeni said while at Elvis Freight store room, Rodrick Masangwi called the MP and upon arrival he told her that the containers were released and sold locally.
“I asked two questions to him: (1) the reason why he had to release the goods that were under seizure without any official release note from us and (2)where exactly he sold these logs too,” said Mainjeni in the report but Masangwi later told her that he had spoken to the deputy Commissioner Enforcement.
Masangwi has since claimed he is not into timber business and accused people he did not name “for dragging him into the circus”
Nation Publications exposed a shocking rush by ‘timber sharks’ to deplete round wood and government has since acted by revoking all export licences for the dealers.
Ministry of Trade and Industry principal secretary Cliff Chinua warned that anyone found exporting raw hard round wood timber “will be liable to prosecution in accordance with the provision of the relevant laws of Malawi.”
The new Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment said a comprehensive investigation done by its 20 members had shown that local and international syndicates, corruption and bribery were at the heart of the illegal exportation of the timber, including the local tsanya variety.
According to the committee, some Cabinet ministers, members of Parliament (MPs) as well as some civil servants who have allegedly manoeuvred to loot Malawi, by illegally exporting the nation’s prized and protected round wood through local and international syndicates, will soon be named and shamed in an investigative report to be tabled in Parliament.
Most of Malawi’s forest reserves, including Dzalanyama in Lilongwe and Viphya (Chikangawa) in Mzimba, have virtually been depleted by dealers in timber and firewood over the years.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :