UTM cadres after 44 vehicles whistleblower

A whistle blower who tipped graft busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on UTM dubious purchase of 44 vehicles some months ago says he is now living in fear.

Gosten Chimseu says UTM cadres are now after him as he is receiving threats following his complaint to the ACB that UTM might have acquired the new vehicles corruptly.

This week the ACB announced that it has opened full investigations on the purchase of the vehicles.

The ACB move has led to party president Saulos Chilima receiving fresh calls to step aside as State Vice President following these fresh allegations of corruption.

UTM vehicles

This is a third allegations of corruption in just months involving Chilima who is also on National Crime Agency (NCA) of UK and ACB radars as suspected to have received huge sums of money and other gifts from corruption kingpin Zuneth Sattar.

This allegation already prompted calls from civil society groups and some section of society to mount their pressure for the Vice President to resign.

Meanwhile, the United Nations and Government of Malawi on Wednesday held a whistle- blowers workshop in Lilongwe to enhance protection of people who give tips about corruption.

The workshop was aimed at coming up with a legislation to help protect whistle-blowers.

ACB director general Martha Chizuma said most people do not report corruption for fear of retaliation.

She said whistle-blowing is a game changer against corruption and there is need to have a legislation in place to protect whistle-blowers.

The ACB director said the whistle-blowers protection legislation will not only cover people who report corruption but also other crimes.

She says the legislation has to be comprehensive to ensure that all whistle-blowers are protected.

She said once whistle-blowing is properly protected by law, it will enhance the fight against corruption.

Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo said corruption sees resources that could have been used to deliver services end in people’s pockets.

He said with corruption, development suffers.

However, Mvalo was optimistic that government is making progressive steps to fight corruption.

He cites the recent amendment of Corrupt Practices Act to enable Anti-Corruption Bureau prosecute cases without seeking consent from the Director of Public Prosecution as a big step towards ensuring fight against corruption is a success.

He said government has also come up with a law for establishment of Financial Crimes Court. This, according to the minister, will help expedite handling of matters to do with corruption.

He therefore called on development partners to help strengthen capacity of judges assigned to the court.

Mvalo has committed that government will not only ensure that there is the whistle-blowers legislation but also that it is fully operational.

ACB has disclosed that it has now opened full investigations on Chilima over 44 vehicles that his UTM procured using one of his friends.

The procurement raised eyebrows forcing one of the concerned citizens writing the ACB to investigate the matter.

All the 44 vehicles are registered in the name of Khwesi Msusa who is connected to the purchase of the vehicles and has been Chilima’s closest friend since their college days.

Soon after the purchase came into the limelight, Chinseu lodged a complaint at ACB.

The bureau’s spokesperson Egritta Ndala says the ACB has since found merit in the request and has launched a full investigation in the matter.

Ndala says after reviewing the complaint, the bureau finds merit for action on the same.

Governance expert, George Phiri, has since welcomed the decision saying it will clear suspicions around the procurement of the said vehicles.

Apart from the two matters, Chilima is also embroiled in another suspected fraud where he is said to have dubiously deposited K200 million at Old Mutual Malawi Limited in one of the firm’s interest-bearing asset investment funds.

This is believed to be a move to hide some of the proceedings from his dirty deals.

The investment raised eyebrows mainly owing to his connection to Sattar who is answering money laundering charges in the United Kingdom. Again, the move raised questions considering his financial status as a government official.

“His package as Vice President is less than three million Kwacha per month meaning he would need to save all his earnings for over five years to accumulate the amount he has invested at Old Mutual. There are so many missing links in his dealings up until he comes out clearly to explain what is going on,” observed one financial commentator who is also privy to the transaction at Old Mutual.

Chilima in 2020 deferred his salary as one way of showing commitment towards the fight against Covid-19. This only confirms suspicions that in the absence of his salary he has been accumulating wealth dubiously.

The learned financial expert questioned the rationale behind Chilima movement of funds at a time he is under the microscope of both local and international investigations agencies.

“It is only wise for one to keep their financial assets immobile when an investigation is taking place. This may force the ACB to freeze his assets once they start prosecuting him, if he really is part of their investigation. It does not look good on him as things stand,” he added.

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