Two companies claim K53bn from govt, activists demand probe

Timothy Mtambo

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has called on authorities to investigate the matter in which two companies are demanding K53 billion from government.

The two companies are African Commercial Agency and Reliance Trading Company owned by Abdul Karim Batawarara.

In 2012, the two firms were awarded a K9 billion contract to supply uniforms to the Immigration Department but they failed to honour it.

Five years later, the suppliers wrote the Immigration Department saying the uniforms were due to arrive in Malawi. The two firms wanted duty free clearance from the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA)

The department however rejected the goods following legal advice from the Attorney General (AG) who argued that the period for delivery had elapsed.

The two firms then sued government over the issue and are now demanding K53 billion.

Meanwhile, human rights activists under HRDC want the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Fiscal Police and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA)  to investigate the matter and prosecute any suspects.

In a statement, HRDC has also asked authorities to suspend companies linked to Batawarara from doing business with government until the investigations are concluded and the two companies are cleared.

“Should the Malawi Government not act on the above, HRDC will assume that the administration is in consort with the suppliers that want to reap from poor Malawians where they did not sow.

“Should that be the case, HRDC shall include this as one of the demands in the upcoming demonstrations in March 2019. The demonstrations shall be against continued plunder of public resources specifically against Mr. Karim Batawarara, his two companies and the Peter Mutharika-led government,” reads the statement.

The statement was signed by the group’s national chairperson Timothy Mtambo, his deputy Gift Trapence and regional chairpersons Happy Mhango (North), Madalitso Banda (East), Masauko Thawe (South) and Billy Mayaya (Centre).