Peter Mutharika says Malawi gov’t victimizing Bingu’s children

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)   leader  Peter Mutharika has renewed his claims that  “government is into property grabbing” of his deceased brother’s property,  late president Bingu wa Muthatrika, saying  he feels  the State is  deliberately victimizing the children and grand children of  the former president to settle a political vendetta.

Bingu died of cardiac arrest while serving as president on April 5, 2012

Speaking on Zodiak radio on Monday, Mutharika said government is deliberately victimising Bingu’s children and grandchildren through  the freezing of  bank accounts and to have deceased estate Bineth Trust declared public.

“The whole process borders on victimization and persecution,” said Mutharika, a law professor.

Peter Mutharika: It's victimisation
Peter Mutharika: It’s victimisation

He however said the Mutharika family “ believe in prayer and God”, saying they will prevail.

Mutharika’s statement comes after Bingu’s children led by Duwa also made similar claims last week.

A source close to the family told Nyasa Times that they feel government wants to squeeze them on the belief that they bankroll opposition DPP which is led by Bingu’s brother, Peter.

Their concerns comes after government through courts  have moved to have Bineth Trust declared public and become a replica of Press Trust, which was initially established as a public trust but operated and was used as a personal entity of Malawi’s founding president, the late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

The office of the Attorney General (AG) commenced proceedings at the Commercial Division of the High Court in the capital, Lilongwe for a declaration that the Bineth Trust is a charitable trust and sought an injunction restraining its trustees from carrying out their duties.

Justice Ken Manda granted an ex-parte  injuctinon which  effectively stops all trustees of the Trust from exercising their positions until the courts review the application to turn Bineth Trust into a public trust.

The judge also granted an order that Mutharika family should  declare all assets owned by Bineth Trust in Malawi or/and abroad.

However, government through its spokesman Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu said they cannot be accused of property grabbing when legally established institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), police and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) investigate any suspicions of wrongdoing.

“All matters of corruption or any indecent ways of amassing wealth, if they attract the eyes of ACB, Fiscal Police or FIU, they become an issue and should not be politicized,” said Kunkuyu who is Minister of Information.

Peter, who described himself as the Mutharika family’s patriarch following the death of his brother in April 2012,  insisted that the Joyce Banda administration wants   “to grab property of the deceased estate.”

Government has been fighting to collect estate duty from Mutharika’s wealth through the courts after private evaluator Yeremiah Chihana estimated the late president’s wealth to be over K61 billion.

Government, through Estate Commissioner, froze all but one bank accounts belonging to the former president Mutharika over unpaid K5 billion (about $12.5m) estate duty from an estate estimated at K61 billion (about $152m) according to a government-hired valuer Yeremia Chihana.

But the bank accounts were unlocked  recently  after the signing of consent order, which among other things, the Mutharika family committed to pay the estate duty after a reevaluation of the estate by a properly vetted valuer.

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