Zameer Karim who gave Malawi President Peter Mutharika K145 million as a gift has handed the President a donation of five vehicles worthy K85 million. Mutharika has received the donation as he has registered the five vehicles in his name.
According to an investigative report by Weekend Nation, Karim bought five units of NP300 vehicles from Nissan Malawi (Imperial Motors Limited) on July 31 2017 under order number 318712.
Each vehicle is valued at K17 million (US$23,000).
Records at the Malawi Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) reveal that the vehicles have been registered in President Mutharika’s name as a title holder number 201601040226588. The vehicles were registered seven days later after purchase.
The records further show that change of ownership was managed by a proxy, State House employee Dabble Disi who is also related to the president. Her title-holder number is 20150704157551.
“Disi is a relation to the President and as a requirement when registering cars at the DRTSS, the one registering the car is required to indicate a proxy and, yes, Disi appears as a proxy on some vehicles the President owns,” State House press secretary Mgeme Kalilani has been quoted by the paper.
However, Mutharika, through statehouse press secretary, has also denied from personally benefiting from the vehicular donation, claiming it is the party that has registered such vehicles. However, the evidence at DRTSS proves to the contrary.
Tracing the chassis numbers of the vehicles through documents at Imperial Stansfield Limited and DRTSS show that a vehicle chassis number ADNAPGD 22Z0097069 that Karim bought on July 31 2017 under tax invoice 20302981 was registered at DRTSS under registration BT 1829 with Arthur Mutharika as the title-holder.
A second vehicle, chassis number ADNAPGD 22Z0097063 and bought under tax invoice number 20302980, is now registered under registration number TO 8287 with Arthur Mutharika as a title-holder.
A third vehicle, chassis number ADNAPGD 22Z0097058 and bought under invoice number 20302982, is now registered at DRTSS under registration number TO 8288 with the President as a title-holder.
The fourth vehicle chassis with number ADNAPGD 22Z0096973 under tax invoice number 20302985 is registered at DRTSS under registration MJ 9582 with Arthur Mutharika as a title-holder.
The last vehicle with chassis number ADNAPGD 22Z0096930 under invoice number 20302984, registered at DRTSS under registration number NE 5794 is also in Arthur Mutharika’s name.
Karim, renamed by other social commentators as Malawi’s Gupta, is reportedly under corruption related investigation. He deposited K145 million into the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) bank account held at Standard Bank, for which Mutharika is the sole signatory.
Likewise, Mutharika had claimed that he did not personally benefit from the donation as all the money financed the construction of a DPP office.
Ironically, the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) cleared Mutharika on grounds of any wrongdoing only after the donation was returned back to the well-wisher.
ACB’s Director General Reyneck Matemba argued that the president was cleared as he had not personally benefited from the multmillion handout.
And speaking on the K85 million vehicle donation, the ACB Director says the graft-busting body does not have any complaint and that ACB would not comment further as it would be inappropriate.
When called on his mobile number, a voice at the end of the line first said was Karim but changed after being asked to explain how the vehicles changed hands.
“I am not Mr Karim, my name is Muhammad Aslam. I cannot comment much on this matter because the person who was handling this transaction [Mr Ahmed] is not around. He will be back on Monday as such, you can call me then to give you more details. I am sorry I cannot continue talking because I am on the road,” he said.
Commentators have argued that the donations are a manifestation of state capture in Malawi. State capture is a political corrupt scheme in which private interests first befriends a sitting president of a particular country and then use this connection to wield significant influence in state decision making processes to their advantage and are able to loot out billions of public funds.