Newspaper puts Atupele on spot over ‘illegal’ contract with India company

Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi, who resigned as Economic Planning Minister, has been put on spot by Nation on Sunday newspaper over a contract purportedly signed by him on behalf of the Malawi Government and an Indian woman named Saritha Likkakula (Khrishna) who signed on behalf of Sai Balaji Enterprise worth 137 000 euros (about K72 million at the current exchange rate.)

The  ministry says the deal is illegal because the former minister side-stepped controlling officers in signing the contract.

According to the report, Muluzi denied knowledge or existence of a contract between himself and the Indian media company.

“Tell them to show you the contract,” he told the paper.

Atupele Muluzi: Dismisses the matter

But  relying on documents – not independently verified as genuine – the  paper says they show that Muluzi and Saritha put pen to paper on June 12 2012, endorsing a contract for Sai Balaji Enterprise to do “a report on Malawi.”

The job was to be completed by July 12 2012 and payment would be made before August 30 2012.

On August 26 2013, Saritha wrote Principal Secretary for EP&D pleading for her payment, insinuating that change of leadership at the ministry had affected their payment.

By then, Muluzi had resigned as minister and was replaced by Goodall Gondwe. Ralph Jooma later replaced Gondwe after the latter had resigned.

Principal Secretary for EP&D Ted Sitima-wina described the contract as illegal.

According to Sitimawina, the Ministry of Justice has also taken up the matter because the contract has been deemed illegal.

Commenting to the story posted on Nation online, one reader identified as  ‘Mphatso’ pointed out that the story smacks of ruling PP propaganda and alleged that K1.5 million has been given to some journalists at the Nation Publication for smear campaign

Another reader posting as ‘GG’ claimed “It is now general knowledge that The Nation has been bought. What a shame….” The reader continued to argue that the story was “vague” and also alleged that Nyasa Times “has been bought” by PP for the same smear campaign.

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