The attempted murder case of former budget director, Paul Montfort Mphwiyo continued at Lilongwe High Court on Monday where defence witness businessman Kondwani Ndovie linked former Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president John Tembo to Cashgate —the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill exposed by Mphwiyo’s shooting.
The case is at defence stage where the second accused person Pika Manondo is defending his two charges of conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder
Manondo brought to court Ndovie as his witness, saying he was the one who printed MCP convention materials using cashgate money after he was approached by him.
Ndovie, a former civil servant told the court that he knew Manondo in 1997 when they were all working at National Audit Office as auditors but he left two years later to have his business and Manondo left to work with National Assembly but they still used to be friends.
He told the court that in 2013 he was approached by Manondo to print MCP convention materials and he send quotation of the order which was amounting to K5.5 million through BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and Manondo told him that he will get a call from someone to give him the cash.
“Pika gave me an order to print MCP convention materials and I send him quotation through BBM that was in 2013 July, he told me that someone will call to give me the money and I remember receiving a call from one Mr Oswald Lutepo who told me to meet him at Cross Roads Hotel car park where we met in his Pathfinder car registration number should be KU 2 if I’m not mistaken, he gave me K5.5 million cash not cheque that was and this should be between 31st July and 1st August,2013 ,” explained Ndovie.
Cashgate convict Lutepo already testified in court that People’s Party (PP) asked him to fund Tembo’s bid for the MCP candidacy in 2014.
Lutepo, who was convicted of laundering K4.2 billion on his own plea of guilty, said he gave over K10 million in tranches to Manondo to source campaign materials such as branded T-shirts for Tembo because he (Manondo) had links to MCP and its machinations.
When Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale asked Ndovie on Monday why he got the cash before the work or if it was just deposit, the witness told the court that that’s how he operate his business with politicians, saying politicians are “risky customers” who can’t be trusted with already done work hence demanding upfront payment.
He told the court that he was told to go and leave the consignment at John Tembo’s house in Area 10 and handed to the retired politician himself.
Ndovie was testifying in the case where former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in the PP administration, Ralph Kasambara, is answering charges of conspiracy to commit murder alongside Manondo and former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldier Macdonald Kumwembe. Manondo and Kumwembe are also answering charges of attempted murder of Mphwiyo.
According to Ndovie he delivered 1000 T shirts, 1000 caps and 400 laptop bags branded MCP convention and that Tembo never asked him where the items are coming from but only indicated that the convention bags which were 400 had a shortfall with 200 bags as such there was need of extra 200 bags.
Ndovie said he also delivered the extra bags to MCP’s Vitus Dzoole Mwale at Natural Resources College during the MCP convention as instructed by Tembo.
Kachale asked Ndovie if the material were campaigning for any candidate including Lazarus Chakwera but Ndovie said according to him the materials were for convention and not promoting an individual.
In his testimony, Lutepo said he deduced that PP, and its leader Joyce Banda, wanted a weaker opposition candidate in Tembo during the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.
Ndovie told the court that Lutepo asked him if he had Standard Bank account so he could deposit extra K1.1 million for the printed extra 200 bags but gave an account of his wife Patience Ndovie and the cashgate convict transferred K1. 1 million which he noted that that forensic audit by Baker Tilly report on page 43 the name Patience Ndovie is appearing as one account that received the sum of K1.1 million from Lutepo.
He told the court that Chakwera never contracted him to do any work for him but after convention, Tembo gave him order t shirts to print with name and face of Chakwera.
Mphwiyo whose shooting on 13 September 2013 led to the unravelling of the systematic looting of millions of government money dubbed ‘cash gate’ and the resultant discovery that up to K24 billion million was minted from the government payment system, where politicians and businessmen colluded with civil servants for payments for goods and services not rendered to government.
Soon after Mphwiyo’s shooting millions of cash in Malawi kwacha, US dollars and South African rands started pitching up in unlikely places like in car trunks, baby dolls, under beds or in pillow cases.
Western donor countries and agencies reacted by freezing up to US $150 million in aid for Malawi.
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