The root of the oil exploration mess that is causing Lilongwe serious headaches can be traced to corruption and incompetence displayed by two Malawians and a certain UAE Arab, we can reveal.
Few months after Peter Mutharika ascended to the Malawi Presidency, his government issued a moratorium which is basically a delay or a suspension of all oil exploration activities on Lake Malawi after discovering that there were massive irregularities in the way licenses were obtained by the companies doing the work.
The controversial Lake Malawi oil exploration project is divided into six blocks for the exploration and production of Petroleum. Exploration licence for blocks 2 and 3 were issued to a British Company called Surestream Limited. RAK gas MB45 Limited—a state owned oil company for the Ras Al Khaima Emirate in the United Arab Emirates—was given licence for blocks 4 and 5. Block 6’s exploration licence was issued out to Pacific Oil Limited whereas Block 1 was licensed to SacOil, a South African company.
Hamra Oil Malawi Limited was also in operation as Surestream later farmed its blocks to this Company in a joint operating agreement as Surestream had no enough capacity to carry out the work. Hamra Oil Malawi Limited is a Company controlled by the Emir of Ras Al Khaima.
The mess which government has discovered is that three licences were issued to this Emir of Ras Al Khaima controlled companies as the Mutharika administration learnt that Rak gas MB45 Limited, Pacific Oil Limited and Hamra Oil Limited are companies controlled by one group designed to get a Lions share of the oil blocks by using any trick in or outside the book.
Authorities noted that one Kamal Ataya (Arab), who happens to be the Chief Executive Officer for Rak Gas also signed an application for an exploration license for Pacific Oil Limited on 1stJune, 2013 and the same guy was also behind the licence for Hamra Oil Malawi Limited.
How the licenses were obtained
Investigations have revealed that Geologist Chimwemwe Chikusa was responsible for registering all three Arabic companies in Malawi. Chikusa, who was made Country director of Rak Gas Limited by the Arabs and was promised and indeed in the early stages made country director for the two companies thereby drawing salaries from three sources, engineered the misleading of the Arabs by dubiously acquiring exploration licenses for the other blocks—a move which was achieved by creating 3 new Companies in the name of Pacific Oil Limited and Hamra Oil Limited.
Chikusa connived with former Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, mine and Natural resources, Leonard Kalindakafe, to facilitate the issuance of the Licences to this one entity operating under different Companies and were sharing some kickbacks from the shady operations.
Kalindakafe was fired as Principal Secretary immediately after the Mutharika-led administration discovered this abuse of office and the country’s graft busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is finalising its investigations to pounce on him.
A source at the ACB also confirmed that the used and abused Chikusa is also under investigations for corruption related charges.
Meanwhile, Malawi Attorney General Kalakeni Kaphale has advised the Peter Mutharika administration a range of options on how to handle this mess but top on the options is a clear cut advise to ‘cancel all the exploration licences or at a bare minimum, licences for blocks 4, 5 and 6 as having been entered into with parties that are related to Hamra Oil Limited which has a controlling interest in two blocks already as these are the maximum a party can get.”
The exploration of oil on Lake a Malawi is still a contentious issue as locals from the lake shore districts protest the move claiming the project has the potential to kill fish which they depend for a living while on the other side, there is still a heated argument which has not been resolved with neighbouring Tanzania which claims that half of the Lake is hers contrary to Malawi claims that she wholly own the Lake.
Social commentators also argue that even if the oil explorations can continue, the proceeds from such an activity can obviously not going to benefit the people of this impoverished southern African nation but few elites as evidenced by the raw deal Malawians have been given by their ever greedy politicians since time immemorial.
For example, commentators cite the example of Kayerekera Uranium mine in Karonga which has only benefited those from the corridors of power, leaving even the district itself poorer than it was in 1964 when Malawi got independent from her colonizer, Britain.
Hamra Oil has also its dirt on Malawi oil and has recently been sued by some media consultants, more details will follow on Nyasa Times.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :