Former Chief Immigration Officer Masauko Medi has contradicted the Attorney General (AG) Dr Chikosa Silungwe in the Immigration Department uniform supply court case.
Medi, who is a star witness, in a case where the later is challenging the huge debt government owes two companies, Reliance Trading Company Limited and Africa Commercial Agency owned by businessman Karim Batatawala.
Court documents filed in the Lilongwe High Court Commercial Division seen by Nyasa Times reveal that the two companies are owed the money claimed, contrary to the position advanced by the AG who has disputed the paperwork submitted by the Immigration Department for payment certification.
The former chief immigration officer Masauko Medi is the first witness for the defendant – Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services – in the protracted legal battle that is costing taxpayers more as it drags on.
The two firms have offered the AG a negotiated out of court settlement to save costs but were rebuffed say the amount is increasing with daily compound interest being charged.
Medi admitted in his witness statement that on 26 October 2015, first claimant Reliance
Trading Company Limited contacted him asking confirmation that the Department owed them
MK2, 235, 961, 772.79.
Medi refused to do so verbally and advised to put it in writing and on December 7, 2015, he wrote back to the company confirming that the department owed the company the quoted amount.
Medi further states in his adopted witness statement that the claimant wrote him on April
20, 2016, asking his office to confirm owing them K2,721,271,577.60 and he confirmed.
Medi has also confirmed in the documents that the Department of Immigration, in 2009, 2010 and 2012, indeed entered into contracts with the two companies to supply uniforms and
accessories over a period of several years.
He also concedes that the then Office of Director of Public Procurement (ODPP), which is now called Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) cleared the
contracts as having followed procurement laws through a ‘No Objection’.
Medi, however, only found it “shocking” that his department instructed three suppliers at the same time to supply uniforms worth over MK12 billion.
Medi joined the department in January 2015 after the contracts had already been signed, but some of the consignment from the suppliers arrived while he was at the institution.
The two companies argue that by failing to pay for the uniforms and accessories already
supplied and refusing to clear with Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) as well as receive new consignments as per contractual obligations, the department has breached the contract.
The claimants, therefore, want the court to order the department to facilitate clearance of
the goods the subject matter of the aforesaid contracts duty free; accept and take delivery of
the goods; and pay the contract price for the goods delivered pursuant to the aforesaid
The suppliers also want the court to slap compound interest on the outstanding payments at the prevailing commercial bank lending rate on the contract price for the period it shall wholly or partially remain unpaid in terms of the contract.
They are also seeking an interlocutory injunction order for preservation and/or safe custody of the goods by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services pending final determination of the action herein plus costs of the action.
Despite there being signed contracts and the Department of Immigration admitting owing
the two suppliers, the AG denies having entered into contract with the Claimants.
The defendants, according to court documents, even it were somehow established that the said
contracts do exist, the defendant plan to argue before judge Ken Manda that the two companies took too long to supply.
By failing to supply within reasonable time, argues: “the Defendant will contend that the 2012 contracts got terminated through effluxion of reasonable time and therefore there was no contract at the time of delivery of uniforms.”
However, the claimants argue that for some time they could not supply because the
department was not honouring payments as per the contracts, staying months and sometimes years without clearing outstanding bills, which made it difficult for the companies to order more.