Mutharika claims is victim of fraud, corruption: Chunara witness in K5bn ‘cementgate’

Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is turning businessperson Shafee Ahmed Chunara—arrested in connection with the cement importation saga— to become prosecution witness against  former president Peter Mutharika’s security aide Norman Chisale on charges  linked to alleged abuse of duty-free status of a sitting president.

Mutharika: Appears to be distancing himself from the cement-gate
Businessperson Shafee Chunara to be turned witness
Chisale: Face charges

The 26-year-old entrepreneur  was arrested and charged with fraud in which he  was accused of importing 800 000 bags of cement using deceitful or fraudulent means without paying duty worth K5 billion.

His second offence was of  money laundering contrary to Section 331A (a) of the Penal Code in which he was  accused of engaging himself directly or indirectly in the importation of 800 000 bags of cement without paying duty.

However, the State feels Chunara would best be a prosecution witness in the matter having studied his witness statements and affidavits.

Powell Nkhutabasa, the lawyer representing Chunara, said the  owner of Prestige Imports and Exports,   maintains his innocence in the matter.

Chunara reportedly told the police “the truth” on how he got the cement.

Police also arrested former Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) deputy commissioner general Roza Mbilizi in connection with cement-gate scandal.

Before Mutharika was ousted from power in the June 23 fresh presidential election, State House and MRA on June 16 justified the transaction as “within the law”, as it was for personal use.

However, Mutharika on Friday at a news conference  in Mangochi categorically denied  instructing his personal bodyguard Chisale to import cement from Zambia and Zimbabwe using the duty-free status that presidents enjoy to import goods for personal use.

“I had no idea. I mean, look behind you, I have not finished that part of my premises because I do not have cement,” said Mutharika at his beachside private retirement home – christened as Nyekhwe Palace.

“If I had all those millions of bags of cement, do you think  I would still be struggling to complete the house?” he said.

Mutharika – a law professor –  appeared to be distancing himself from the cement-gate, paying way for his personal legal defence, arguing he is a victim of identity fraud.

He said the cement importation controversy is a tax evasion matter that has to be dealt as such between Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and whoever brought the cement .

Mutharika said he is absolutely furious that authorities  froze his bank accounts.

“I am a victim of fraud, yet I am the one being penalised. This is not fair,” he said.

Mutharika wondered: “They know I never imported the cement. I have no knowledge, so why punish me.”

The former president, who was ousted in power through a court-ordered fresh presidential elections  when he lost to Lazarus Chakwera of the Tonse Alliance,  said if he made mistakes in his six years in power , “they were  errors of misjudgement, not out of evil.”

On accusations that he presided over a corrupt government, Mutharika said corruption has always been there “even in biblical times”  and is still rearing its ugly  head in the new administration.

“Cashgate {corruption scandal discovered in 2014 under the Joyce Banda administration] was the worst form of corruption.

“In this new administration [Tonse]; we have already started reading about corruption. It is not easy to control it, “he said.

Mutharika cited a report by former Director of Public Prosecution Fahad Assani, well before he came to power, that a third of Malawi’s national budget is lost through fraud and corruption.

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mtete
mtete
1 month ago

A pointer to corruption is change in life style. You mean you failed to notice Chisale’s change in life style?. He built houses left and right, bought expensive cars, built a church, donated coasters and you just sat phwii, doing nothing? And your wife didn’t whisper in your ears about Chisale or Mukhito?
Give us a break Bwana APM.

Bauleni
Bauleni
1 month ago
Reply to  mtete

You have clearly never heard of manipulative people. Have you never head of a cheating wife or husband? Someone who lies to you that the kids are yours when they are not, someone who has a a whole other family, a wife and kids while he is your husband and father to your kids. These things happen. People are manipulative. Chisale knew his ways.

Nyekhwe Palace
Nyekhwe Palace
1 month ago

APM says corruption is nearly impossible to stop (WeekEnd Nation). But the problem is he didn’t even try. Whenever he was told that one of his aides was engaged in corrupt activities APM’s default position was to deny it vehemently; instead of authorising an independent investigation. Maybe you cannot stop corruption completely because of human nature, but you can keep it to the bare minimum by ensuring that Govt institutions are well funded, well staffed and are independent to do their work. In Northern Europe (i.e. Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, etc) corruption is kept at a minimum by observing the… Read more »

Malandia
Malandia
1 month ago

Nde mwati mmwenye ameneyu sakalowa? I can forsee local CSOs mobilising masses to demonstrate against this selective justice.

Moqtadar al Sadir
1 month ago

Pitala kugona ndi kupusa nchifukwa chake Getu ndi Norman amakuyenda pano.

Bauleni
Bauleni
1 month ago

He trusted the wrong people. Like Bingu said about Callista. My biggest mistake was marrying that woman. Apm’s problem was/ is the same. Marrying a manipulative wife.

Kangaloo
Kangaloo
1 month ago

It’s obvious ndalama zadyedwapo apa. These rich Indians can buy justice . Remember ACB arrested the guy only as a result of public outcry.

Whilst others were arrested on Fridays so that they the spend more days in the cooler it was never the case with the Malawian Gupta. We need a system overhaul at ACB.

Fake Petros
Fake Petros
1 month ago

The fraudster, Prince of Thieves himself is claiming to be innocent today. Yes corruption has been there even during Biblical times. The difference is that it was actually APM himself who was the mastermind, at the helm of it all and was the perpetrator. Examples are countless the PI bank transactions/ kickback deposit into APM”s own bank account, use of of his TPIN in cementgate, etc. He cannot claim innocence. Of course he was a zombie president, but that’s a different story all together

CITIZEN
CITIZEN
1 month ago

Just exactly who victimised Peter Mutharika in this saga?

Prison calling
Prison calling
1 month ago

Nobody would have frauded you if you were not a sleep at the wheel. Kugona too much, you were so clueless that’s why your inner circle took advantage of you

china
china
1 month ago

Tonse Alliance seems to be soft with these Amwenyes why are you scared of them?

Chib
Chib
1 month ago

The issue of cement was all over but as a president you kept quite though your press officer defended it….. who instructed your press officer? That’s is why people were saying you were sleeping on the job

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