AG Silungwe demands fresh investigation into K12.3 billion Batatawala deals


Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe has told the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate the suspicious awarding of contracts worth K12 billion to businessperson Karim Batatawala.

Silungwe has said this in a letter to the ACB in which he has also expressed suspicions over the handling of the matter by government agencies.

According to the letter, Batatawala’s companies Reliance Trading Company and Africa Commercial Agency were awarded six contracts by the Department of Immigration in 2009, 2010 and 2012 for the supply of uniforms and other accessories.

The AG said the contracts worth K12 billion were not approved by the Secretary to the Treasury and the sums involved were more than the budget for the Department of Immigration.

The contracts also bared the same contract number and had a mere ‘no objection’ from the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA).

“The officers of the Department then entered into three contracts on the same day, 26th March 2012 at a staggering contract price of K12,344,108,400,” the AG said.

According to the AG, officers at the PPDA facilitated the suspicious contracts with ridiculous prices hence leading to suspicions that the officers were compromised in the execution of their duties.

Silungwe added that his office engaged the ACB over the issue in 2019 and the ACB handed the issue to fiscal police. When a follow up was made the police only provided a preliminary report cannot be filed in court.

Silungwe has since urged the AG to consider opening fresh investigations into the matter   and possibly launch criminal prosecution of officers involved.

Meanwhile, Batatawalas companies are still demanding K53 billion from government over the contracts.

After the contracts were entered in 2012, the uniforms were not supplied but in 2017 the suppliers wrote the Immigration Department saying the uniforms were due to arrive in Malawi.

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 companies then dragged government to court over the issue and is demanding K53 billion.