South Africa-based Malawian businessperson Ashanti Simbi Phiri, who is facing claims that he has been one of the key donors for the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) for their elections bid in the May 21 Tripartite Elections to the tune of K700 million, has had his public relations office in damage control, playing down that Simbi is one of the most generous donors to the MCP.
The MCP leadership is keeping a tight lid on their donors list but information Nyasa Times gathered from the party, Simbi is revered in the rank and file as “most important donor.”
Simbi’s spokesman in Malawi, Taonga Botolo, took to Facebook for PR spin on the reports that his boss has been one of key donors on MCP.
One of Facebook user, Raymond Chikoko, who is a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) operative, posted a comment after an earlier Nyasa Times story: “Simbi of Khato, just know MCP you supported, lost. Water Project in our mind.’’
Commenting on the post Botolo denied Simbi being a big donor of MCP, saying it is “propaganda.”
While the spokesman was down playing the story, many top officials of MCP were all praises for the “support” Simbi gave to the party machinery through cash, funds for printing campaign materials in South Africa and operation costs.
Simbi, who runs a construction and engineering firm Khato Holdings Limited, is on record to have accepted being a donor to political parties and that he also give cash to governing Democratic Progressive Party, saying “ is the spirit that I have introduced in this life.”
The bankrolling of DPP and MCP has raised question in some quarters as they interpret it as a move of getting favours from those in power and then have no checks and balances from the main opposition.
The country now has the Political Parties Act that oblige them to declare their sources of funding.
Simbi’s Khato Civils came into the limelight when it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with government to carry out three major projects to provide water to Lilongwe City from Salima, construction of toll gates and an international bus terminal in Lilongwe.
The three projects valued at $1 billion (about K750 billion) have stalled but the MCP in its manifesto for the May 21 elections promised to complete the project.
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