MRA denies giving preferential treatment to Mapeto, Asians in enforcement of Taxation Act

The Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has denied allegations that it is favouring Asians when enforcing the Taxation Act while applying illegal measures on indigenous businesspersons.

Bizwick: MRA is discharging its duties in accordance with the law

On October 12  2020, the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) wrote MRA, accusing the body of giving preferential treatment to Malawians of Asian origin.

CDEDI executive director Sylvester Namiwa cited the late Denis Katsache as one of the indigenous businesspeople who have been unfairly treated by the Authority.

Katsache died of hypertension a few hours after MRA officials seized his truck loaded with energy drinks and bananas imported from Tanzania.

Namiwa challenged the revenue collector to go after Faizal Latif of Mapeto DWSM Limited who is alleged to have under-declared duty mid-2019.

He told the MRA Commissioner General John Bizwick, in the letter, that on August 14, 2019, the Blantyre Magistrate Court issued a search warrant for Latif under Criminal Case 277 of 2019 over under-declaration of duty to MRA.

“The warrant authorized MRA to search NBS premises and take possession of documents tendered in court. The matter involved tax evasion. NBS acknowledged receipt on August 27, 2019. On August 3, 2020, MRA Head of Corporate Affairs, Steven Kapoloma, told a local newspaper that that the case had delayed due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, claiming that the MRA officials were supposed to travel to China to verify the actual price of the goods Mapeto Wholesalers had imported.

“It is also worth mentioning that Faizal Latif, the proprietor of Mapeto Wholesalers, claimed in the same newspaper article that the goods in question had already been released. However, the newspaper retrated the story and apologized to Latif. What is more surprising is that MRA released the goods even before the tax evasion issues were concluded,” reads the letter Namiwa has addressed to MRA Commissioner Genera John Bizwick and whose receipt has been acknowledged by the Authority.

“Secondly, MRA is hiding behind the Covid-19 pandemic whose first case officially confirmed by the Malawi Government in April 2020, and yet the search warrant for Mapeto was issued in August 2019 – eight months before the Covid-19 confirmation in Malawi. Why has the MRA dragged its feet this long?” he asked.

Namiwa wondered why MRA failed to exercise a similar patience on Katsache who had given wrong information to the officials in order to evade duty.

“Sir, as you are reading this, MRA has lost a taxpayer; the Malawi Government has lost a productive citizen who was contributing to the country’s gross domestic product; the family has lost a husband and a father; the unemployed have lost a prospective employer. CDEDI, and indeed all Malawians of goodwill, believe that this untimely death could have been avoided if only the MRA [officials] had treated the lake Katsache fairly,” he points out.

“Now, my problem is: had it been that the incident happened to a foreigner or our dear brothers and sisters of Asian origin, that could have been an issue to warrant a whole commission of inquiry. I hope by now, you are able to know why I am writing you this letter. Since then, nothing has been heard or written. I expected the Anti-Corruption Bureau to act or the whistle-blowers we have in to town to act, but zero.

“My question is: should we say MRA has two set of tax laws? Do you think if this warrant was for an indigenous, could it be swept under the carpet like that? Why was Katsache not given a chance like the way MRAis giving to Mapeto to an extent that they are waiting up to the end of the pandemic to investigate him?” queried Namiwa.

But in his response dated 30th October 2020, Bizwick denies the allegations, arguing the Authority is discharging its duties in accordance with the law.

He further refuses to discuss any issue related to the alleged tax evasion by Latif.

“With regards to Mapeto case, the Authority cannot discuss this issue with you in respect of the confidentiality of tax issues. Section 6 (2) of the Taxation Act mandates MRA not to disclose taxpayer’s affairs with third parties,” reads the letter Bizwick has written to Namiwa.

And in his response on the unfair treatment given to the late Katsache, the MRA boss states that the importer misclassified and under-declared his goods contrary to the Customs and Excise Act.

“It is important to note that the importer accepted the offence and was making arrangements to pay the duty and penalty. I hope that you will note that the two cases are different and the Authority handled the two cases in accordance with the law and without any form of discrimination,” says Bizwick.

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Erik P
Erik P
7 months ago

Fundamentally Malawi and most Malawians are highly racist. It’s a country that can’t become a globalised economy because it puts off external investors. If you are white, asian looking or foreign you’ll be charged more, given less rights and expected to be the beneficiary to your poor black brothers. Poverty in Malawi is mainly due to lack of personal responsibility, and whilst Asians are reinvesting cash in their business, many Malawian families simply suck their own businesses dry. The MRA are absolute criminals. Not sure if Malawians remember their history when asain businesses were closed down.. it was an economic… Read more »

ARNOLD MAVUTULA
ARNOLD MAVUTULA
7 months ago
Reply to  Erik P

To say Malawians are racist is far fetched prejudiced maybe,the fact that malawians assume that Asians or Europeans are well off is because of the general image that is put up by these two groups and to an extent they not wrong…u should also keep in mind that Asian have been doing bussines in malawi for ages nd most have inherited the firm’s they run or have had tips and assistance from their colleagues therefore cannot be on the same playing field with the guy selling wares by the road…this issue is a deep one coz it stems from so… Read more »

mtete
mtete
7 months ago

And they say individual’s tax information is confidential? Fair enough. But how will we know about shady deals at MRA? There are so many “mkanyumba komata” at MRA where fraudsters discuss “what is in it for me” issues.

Wondering Blues
Wondering Blues
7 months ago

I beg to differ . Unfortunately I don’t agree with the line being thrown that Asians are being given preference on the contrary I feel it’s the other way around. Especially with the EFD machines I mean all Asian owned shops have them. How many “indigenous” Malawian shop owners have them? Yes when it comes to Tax evasion there is a point but how many Asians are getting away without paying taxes maybe just 20 or so people MAX in my assumption. These people that do get away with tax are tycoons not the ones sitting and plying their trade… Read more »

Benjones87
Benjones87
7 months ago

Don’t point fingers at anyone. Here we have a problem with our system and it us true that most of the MRA officer’s are used to taking bribes. Maputo and other business people are taking advantage of this weakness.

NEW MALAWI`
NEW MALAWI`
7 months ago

FACT IS MOST INDIANS HAVE CORRUPTED MALAWI REVENUE AUTHORITY OFFICIALS , BAD ROTTEN EGS ARE STILL ATG MRA ISSUING TAX CLEARANCE CERTIFICATES TO INDIANS YET THESE INDIANS HAVE ISSUES WITH MRA.
SHAME,REAL CHANGE IS ON THE WAY THIS IS OUR COUNTRY

Imran patel
Imran patel
7 months ago

This allegation that MRA treat Asians favorably is a load of nonsense. I being a Malawian of asian origin have a shop and I used to import goods but have stopped importing now because of the harassment I used to suffer from MRA officials. If you do not give them bribes they make life difficult for you.I now order goods through indegenious Malawians who bring for me and buy from them and it costs me half the price of what it would have cost me had i imported myself. A lot of Asians now go through indegenious Malawians to get… Read more »

Haste
Haste
7 months ago
Reply to  Imran patel

I am a Black Malawian but with a mixed family. Everytime my other family members want something done, they usually ask me to do it because they experience the same thing so on this one I understand you. The foreign you look, the higher the demands.

revolution
revolution
7 months ago

i don,t why we still accommodate this corrupt amwenye.six month down the line.we are still afraid of lawsuits.
civil servants sellout.just parading phds and one of the poorest country in the
world..
always scamming tax payers money as if they own they country and lets boot them out and i am sure they can get jobs else where.

Ku lumbadzi
Ku lumbadzi
7 months ago
Reply to  revolution

They are not the ones who are scamming this country,it’s the politicians,network of civil servants who over the last 26 years have been behind unprecedented looting of taxes,very convenient to put all the blame on minorities,.

Chirstopher Kachale
Chirstopher Kachale
7 months ago

Mapeto Faizal Latif is Crook and he has been doing Tax Theft since he purchased DW Tax Evasion on Raw Materials imported from India and other Business He has been Evading Tax and Not paying Taxes by Underdeclaring the Value of Goods and Paying Money to its Suppliers Through Hawala System (Which is Routing Money through Dubai and other Means) That a what Most Asian Business People do in Malawi

MRA should always check there Imports Price Either it will be High to Extermalised the Forex out of Malawi

Whiplash
Whiplash
7 months ago

CDEDI as an organisation only meant for indigenous Malawians? You can ask yourself why uldai mussa was convicted before muluzi? I think every case is different.. Some may have evidence provided right away, while others are difficult to get because it’s more complicated and involves more players. An also as an NGO organisation we should be professional and not let emotions take the better of us. You are trying to justify the actions of an individual who broke the law. Had it been that this individual did not pass on would you have still justified his actions. Yes both parties… Read more »

Trudy
Trudy
7 months ago

some of these places need cctv cameras 24/7. Road traffic, lands, MRA, Malawi bureau of standards etc

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