Transcription on how Chinese investor bribed Malawi Mining Ministry officials and Minister

Here is a full transcription of a leaked audio clip which Chief Mining Engineer in Ministry of Mining Cassius Chiwambo is alleged to be soliciting bribes from the business partner of the owner of Ilomba Granite Company Limited in Chitipa, Faisal Hassen. Former minister Bintony Kutsaira is also implicated.

Kutsaira was Minister of Mining

Cassius Chiwambo: You’ll also pay 750 to him?

Chinese investor: No, no, no, no, I don’t pay this money…. [says something that’s not clear due to his Chinese accent].. I also pay him 250%, I also get share in his company. This mean I use my money against myself. And if you trust to renew, how long time I can get the licence. I also give this money for you and minister, I can give this money, no problem.

Chiwambo: OK, what you’re saying is .. [interrupted by a phone call]. Chinese investor: So you, how long time can I getting this licence? Chiwambo: I’m not getting you. You want to pay 200 for minister…

Chinese investor: Yes…

Chiwambo: And 40 for me?

Chinese investor: Yes…

Chiwambo: And 60 for committee?

Chinese investor: Yes…

Chiwambo: And then? We renew the licence?

Chinese investor: Yes…

Chiwambo: It will be difficult.

Chinese investor: Why? You get the same money, it’s my name, because I also…

Chiwambo: Yes, what I want to say is there will be a problem. Because people want us to cancel the licence for Faisal. They don’t want Faisal. This is between you and me.

Chinese licence: Yes, but we already make two borehole, right now. Chiwambo: Don’t worry, that will…

Chinese investor: No, no, I already make it now. Already now finish. Yes! It is finish one, to be finish one.

Chiwambo: So you pay this, and you also pay 750..

Chinese investor: No, I will talk with him.

Audio clip 2:

Chiwambo: I’m very well. Where are you? You’re home now?

Someone known only as Chairman: Yeah, I’m just back from the office.

Chiwambo: Chair, a quick one. But the rest I’ll call you later and explain on WhatsApp call.

Chairman: Tell me.

Chiwambo: Is it possible to renew the licence – a mining licence – before it expires?

Chairman: Is it the licence of the owner?

Chiwambo: Yes.

Chairman: Yeah, that should be possible. Why?

Chiwambo: We’re making a good deal here.

Chairman: Yeah..?

Chiwambo: I’m with the big man who is in partnership with Faisal. Chairman: Who is this big man?

Chiwambo: It’s Joi. Chinese investor: Yes, this is Joi.

Chairman: The one who said he was going to buy a phone for me? Chiwambo: No, July said that when his boss is coming he will bring the phone, but he didn’t bring the phone…

Wait! [to the Chinese investor] Where’s the phone for my boss? When July was leaving, he said the boss would bring a phone for me and the Chair. Where are the phones?

Chinese investor: July himself didn’t come, why asking me?

Chiwambo: But he said that you, when coming would bring the phones. Chinese investor: This small thing like this it’s July do. I just pay money. How can I do this small thing?

Chiwambo [to the Chairman]: Atibweletsera. Pa 27’pa.

Chairman: OK.

Chiwambo [speaking in Cichewa]: Now, he (the Chinese investor) is requesting for our consideration to still renew his licence. I’ve already spoken to the Minister and there are terms we have already agreed upon, so my expectation is that it’s still a 50:50 win.

Chairman: We can renew the licence, it’s fine.

Chiwambo: We can do it even now? Because I wanted us to do it even before leaving for Dundee (Scotland) on 27 December, to have the licence renewed, and they should just wait for the day, pay, and then proceed. Because now they have done Corporate Social Responsibility, they have drilled so far two boreholes.

Chinese investor: They’re already done.

Audio clip 3:

Chinese investor: …Will do everything and use the normal way-

Chiwambo: So, the proposal for you, is that you give this money, and what we agreed is that by 10th you pay 50 per cent, the other 50 per cent remains. But we should renew the licence; but you want to find out when we can renew the licence.

Chinese investor: What?

Chiwambo: When? When we can renew the licence, which we can do even before expiry, according to the law. Before it can expire we can renew it. I think we are given about three months to renew it.

Chinese investor: Why so long time? Chiwambo: We’re free; we can wait until it expires or we can renew…

Chinese investor: Possible you help me December? Next week, next year. If next month please I pay full amount next month no problem.

Chiwambo: OK fine I’ll talk to the Chair. But the problem is that you don’t have the K2 million to give to him and ..

Chinese: You don’t know me, my friend.

Chiwambo: I know you’re a very distinguished man. This is what July told me. And I believe you and I trust you.

End of audio clips.

Mr Cassius Chiwambo released a statement in which he says he merely played along to the man’s offers in order for him to gather more information about the corrupt activities the Chinese investor is involved in.

Yesterday, Mr. Chiwambo and I spoke on phone twice, and at both times he attempted to explain himself.

I asked him the following questions:

(1)Who recorded the conversation?

Answer: The Chinese investor.

(2) If you were the one playing along as part of finding out the corrupt practices, why was it not you doing the recording so it could later be used as evidence in court?

No answer.

(3) Offering a bribe is against the Corrupt Practices Act. Did you report this to the Anti-Corruption Bureau? No. Why?

No answer.

I therefore concluded that Mr Chiwambo’s story is a self-serving lie he came up with as an attempt to clean up his image, after discovering that the audios had leaked. We see him not only talking about the money, but also aggressively pushing the Chinese investor to give him (and the Chairman) mobile phones, again as part of the corrupt practices.

In audio clip 3, the way he asks for the K2 million – it’s in a tone that shows frustration that the Chinese man is not coughing up the money.

Mr. Chiwambo – Chief Mining Director in the Ministry of Mining – told me that he is a man of God, and his conscience is clear. He says God is his witness – he did not pocket any money. I consider the God part as a private affair between him and his God – my only concern at this point is poor Malawians who are starving, at whom they throw an occasional borehole the way we throw a chicken bone to a dog, while they pocket millions and impoverish the country.

Our mining sector is one of the most corrupt in the country. Bingu, for example, pocketed millions on Kayelekera at the expense of the country. Now we have top ministry of mining officials soliciting bribes from investors. We cannot go on this way. This nonsense must stop.

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The Knight Templar
The Knight Templar
1 month ago

But this Chiwambo guy is intellectually gifted. Really gifted. Last time Nyasatimes had an article praising his expertise and knowledge. Now some of his enemies couldn’t allow it and for sure they have revealed sole of his dirty stuff. It seems he is wrong here but for sure the whistle blowers are equally having some evil intent. It also shall not last long for them. They will not prosper with it.

Nyong'omele
Nyong'omele
1 month ago

This is just like what happen in Cyprus. Ministers were selling European passports and citizenship to criminals. When undercover journalist from Al jazeera recorded them, they said they were just playing along. They now have all resigned

Bamusi
1 month ago

All mines should be closed right away now, ma china adzipita , apa ndiye tiphanapo beleave me. Atibela kwambiri and atikwana

James Kalasa
James Kalasa
1 month ago

kkkkkkk la 40 lamukwanila chiwambo. he must receive penanty of death

Bentby from Chigunda Dwangwa

this is a straight forward issue. the chiwambo man is a corrupt and sell out. why is govt sleeping on this plain issue. zomvesa chisoni kwambiri to see senior public officials soliciting bribes in this manner like anamasikini. choncho ma investors angatipase ulemu? or anthu owagwilira ntchito angawapase ulemu? that is why ma china amakhalira ku tchaya anthu antchito awo knowing kuti nothing will happen to them. most of malawi new generation graduates are working to get rich quickly not to serve the nation forgetting that real wealth is fruits of hard work and honesty.

Joni
Joni
1 month ago

THE GUY SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALREADY INTERDICTED BY NOW……

Mulopwana
1 month ago

A Cassious Chiwambo, kuchenjela kknse kwathatu apa. Tiziwona mukaitandidwa kuti mukayankhepo. U never recorded the conversation , never reported to ACB and now claim you played along. Stop this clap and just disappear. High life pay bak

Vembe
Vembe
1 month ago

Bwana Cassius
U have been flying so high for s long time. Keeping everyone wondering on how u making ends meet pa office. Kumationeketsa ma kape. Tikauza anthu kuti ndalama mukutasa nazozi sizapa payroll anthu nkumatitsutsa.
I wish acb had the capacity to audit all the licences including those issued before the times of kaphwiyo

The Knight Templar
The Knight Templar
1 month ago
Reply to  Vembe

Ife Cassius timamuwonanso a very humble person. Koma inuyo mukuwoneka muli naye chifukwa zambiri. Nsanje a Malawi wina asayendere galimoto yopanda dzina lodziwika bwino.

Phaloni
Phaloni
1 month ago

Drilling 2 boreholes is what they are calling corporate social responsibility? Uchitsiru kapena umfiti? Why is the new government tolerating corrupt individuals? Fire this man asap please.

Kwa
Kwa
1 month ago

An Article published on 18 November 2019 by John Chihana on nyasatimes said the mine had a license expiring on 28 June 2020 and the license number was given too. Now if indeed what you are saying is that this scandal is from the previous regime, which license were they trying to renew seeing that their license was very valid. Malawians are not fools

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