PP’s SG Maulidi ‘swindling’ Malawi tourism investor

In what reads like something out of a Nollywood movie, the newly appointed Secretary General of the Peoples Party (PP), Paul Maulidi is, according to a tearful account of a deportee’s son, on the rampage, swindling clients, yet again.

Maulidi, no stranger to these sort of allegations, has been in bad books with both the Attorney General and Malawi Law Society before, with respect to a hapless widow’s funds.

Mrs Edith Salawe Mwale, 55, who looks after 12 children, grand children and old parents is – as we speak – struggling to make ends meet after Counsel Paul Maulidi, swindled her K5 million (US$16,666) http://mwnation.com/widow-battles-with-lawyer-maulidi-on-k5m/.

In his latest 419, Paul Maulidi’s loot is smaller, but it is the way the long arm of the law suddenly gets a cramp, when dealing with him that is worrisome to the swindled.

Maulidi: Swindling
Maulidi: Swindling

In this Nyasa Times exclusive, Johannesburg based Garvey Karvei, stumbled on an investor who is singing not so favourable a tune with regard to Malawi’s efforts to diversify from tobacco to tourism and attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Paul Maulidi, Secretary General of the ruling Peoples’ Party, is obviously a headliner – in the wrong way.

Flight from Golden Sands:

In 1970, Mr Harold Anthony Ridgeway was dispossessed of the hotel ‘Golden Sands’ at Cape Maclear, by the old Malawi Congress Party regime under the infamous Forfeiture Act which was since repealed.

Mr Harold Anthony Ridgeway and his family, given 24 hours, fled to Southern Rhodesia, present day Zimbabwe.

The Pursuit of Golden Sands:

Fast forward to 2011, Mr Harold Anthony Ridgeway’s son, Simon-Paul Ridgeway, retracing his heritage, found out from a friend that the hotel site was standing empty and lying idle.

“We travelled together to Malawi and we met with Bob Kapanga, who assisted us to find a lawyer to help reclaim the land and buildings.”

And this is where the whole nightmare started.

Enter Paul Maulidi and the wild goose chase:

“In the process,” Simon-Paul Ridgeway continues, “we were introduced to Mr. Paul Maulidi in November 2012. He assured us he would be able to secure what was required, in terms of the Title Deeds, the property that my father had built in Blantyre, and a bank account with Barclays Bank of Blantyre, which at the time contained GBP£5,000 which my father was never able to recover, because the government of Kamuzu Banda, had confiscated all documents, and forced my family to leave Malawi on a 24 hour notice without any assets.”

“When I informed Mr. Maulidi of these facts,” the son says, “he made it clear to me that he would be able to secure the title deeds on both properties, and in the process make it possible for my family to return, to begin the process of rebuilding the hotel.

“Since paying a deposit for his professional services of US$1,000 and then a subsequent tranche of US$1,000 plus expenses which I covered for various trips to the lake, I have received no documentation and only a vague promise that he was following up on the agreement which we both signed.”

And as if the US$2,000 that he pocketed and the logistical expenses that Mr Simon-Paul Ridgeway paid to and/or for Mr. Paul Maulidi without delivering his part of the agreement, the PP secretary general emailed Mr. Ridgeway on June 21 2013 demanding an extra US$3,000 for work not done.

Counsellor or Fraudster par excellence?

“It is my contention, that Mr. Maulidi never had any intention of following through on his services, as a practicing attorney, and has not advised me in any professional capacity, other than to send me a demand for further payments for what he claims are costs incurred.

In point of fact, Mr. Maulidi says he secured the services at my behest, of a land surveyor to draw up plans of the site. What he did do was ask a non-qualified draftsman, to provide a contour picture of my fathers’ land, rendered from a satellite photo of the area. Nothing he has produced thus far has assisted me in achieving the recovery of my families’ assets.”

This is the story of Mr Simon-Paul Ridgeway, son to Mr Harold Anthony Ridgeway (deceased).

The trump card:

As if to prove Mr Ridgeway’s contention right, Mr Paul Maulidi on June 20, 2013 floated his political connection ace.

In an email made available to this reporter, he blatantly said:

“Please let me remind you that apart from being a long experienced lawyer, I am also better placed politically to be able to assist you get what you want to achieve.”

This statement carries two possible interpretations. It can either mean that 1) Mr Paul Maulidi – the ruling party’s Secretary General is a man who uses “political connections” to advance personal business or 2) as a veiled threat to Mr Ridgeway – sort of saying I am untouchable and I can act with total impunity.

Whatever the interpretation one chooses, the values of “honesty”, “integrity”, “sincerity” and what have you, can never be used anywhere near such a loaded statement.

“Ikawola imodzi zawola zonse”:

Raising this issue with a practicing lawyer whose name I will not disclose, he had this to say:

“From the foregoing, two or three things are very clear. First, it appears that combining a legal practice with politics; and worse using political connections to advance private practice can expose even the most virtuous lawyers – if such exist – to conflict of interest of the highest order.”

According to this lawyer: “Mr Paul Maulidi’s conduct – if proved true – is not simply a matter of unethical conflict of interest;  it also borders on malpractice as what has happened here, put in black and white, is misrepresentation with intention to swindle a client – something that the Malawi Law Society should find little to smile about.”

He went on to say: “Secondly, this underlines the need for stronger rules of ethical conduct for the legal fraternity in the country as this sort of behaviour, now taken to the international arena by Mr Paul Maulidi, can potentially damage the image of the Malawi Law Society fraternity,” concluding that the Malawi Law Society, needs to urgently come up with mechanism to govern the conduct of lawyers that decide to romance and flirt with politics.

In a nutshell, the conflict of interest shown here is a hint that perhaps those lawyers who decide to take up political positions should give up their licence to practice at the bar, if only temporarily, and that they should only practice again when they have satisfied certain tests of integrity and nobility that the legal profession is supposed to stand for.

“Kamba amanyera amene wamtola”:

Flipping the coin to other side, there is indeed need for political parties to vet people they want to appoint into high ranking posts.

To underscore this point, pause and imagine what the family of late Mr Harold Anthony Ridgeway now think of the  Peoples’ Party (PP) given their experience with the newly unveiled Secretary General.

Malawi is the ultimate loser:

The negative impact of such despicable conduct, in fact, goes beyond hurting political parties that intercourse with shady crooks.

Let the truth be told here that if this family had been helped – in a professional manner – to revive the Golden Sands, Malawi’s tourism sector would have benefitted – without costing the government a tambala!

Again, potential investors would not be put off by the fact that Malawi is seemingly rewarding crooked and incorrigible swindlers with top party posts where their bad influence permeates to other structures.

As we went to press, Honourable Paul Maulidi had yet to respond to two emails seeking his side of the story. The first email was sent on Thursday, July 25, 2013 and it was resent on Monday, July 29, 2013.

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