Kambala: I am facing trumped up charges

Former Energy Minister Newton Kambala has claimed that he is facing trumped up corruption allegations which he says have traumatized his family and have also seen his construction company being denied business and its share of competition.

Kambala has said this in a Facebook, a year after he was arrested  together with AFORD leader Enoch Chihana and former presidential advisor Chris Chaima Banda.

Kambala is  accused of attempting to influence National Oil Company of Malawi to award contracts of 2020/2021 fuel supply for the advantage of Orxy, Finergy and Trifugira Fuel companies.

Kambala in his Facebook post suggested that members of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) may have been behind his arrest.

According to Kambala, months before his arrest, he received a phone call from a high-ranking Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) official alerting him that the Authority was under immense pressure from politicians serving as high ranking government officials to close Kambala’s company, Mkaka Construction, on grounds of tax evasion.

Kambala said he challenged the MRA official that he has operated Mkaka Construction for 28 years since 1993 and the company has always been tax compliant.

“I asked him to tell me which income stream I have evaded tax on. He was unable to single out one. I, however, gave him the go-ahead to close the company and that we would see what their argument would be. Instead, the official informed me that they had already told the politicians that the Authority would audit the business to establish the allegations. And indeed, the business was audited 30 days later and was found to be tax compliant.,” he said.

He added that two months later, he got a call from a senior MCP member warning him to get ready for an arrest as there was a  meeting to explore what could implicate him enough to warrant an arrest.

Kambala said he called Sosten Gwengwe, a fellow cabinet minister at the time, telling him that he had information that MCP was looking to have him arrested.

“I told Hon Gwengwe that I was calling him for future reference. Hon Gwengwe was surprised and assured me that he thought I couldn’t be arrested,” said Kambala.

On 9th August 2021, Kamba was arrested on corruption allegations.

“Anti-Corruption Bureau officials threatened to handcuff me in the office if I resisted. I told them I had no intentions to resist but offered to be cuffed anyway. They did not. They searched my office and took me to my house where they searched each and every room and grabbed anything they thought would be useful for their case.

“This was happening in full view of my old parents despite me warning them that I had my old parents at home and that I doubted their capacity to handle such a situation. I was taken to ACB Head Office, thereafter to Lilongwe Police station where I spent one night with my co-accused Hon Enock Chihana and Hon Chris Chaima Banda. Later we were taken to Lumbadzi Police Station where we spent the second night in cell.

“During all this time, no charge was read to me. I did not know what corrupt offence I had committed. We have information that we were in police cell for two nights apparently because they struggled to come up with charges against us,” said Kambala

The case is now  in court and so far the ACB has paraded  two witnesses, one of whom was examined and cross-examined by the prosecution and defence respectively.

The second was examined by the prosecution but is yet to be cross-examined by the defence since the case was adjourned in June and was also adjourned indefinitely in July and new dates are yet to be set.

Meanwhile, Kambala has claimed that some businesspersons have been attempting to blackmail him.

According to Kambala, on 1st august 2022, he received a call from Superintendent Henry Kalungu from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Area 30 Police headquarters who told the former minister that there was complaint by a Mr Mathias Bonongwe alleging that Kambala borrowed from him K250 million and is not paying back.

On 2nd August 2022, Kambala met Superintendent Henry Kalungu at Area 30.

“I asked Superintendent Henry Kalungu if Mr Bonongwe brought any documents for the loan. He responded, no. I asked what proof he (from Superintendent Henry Kalungu) had that I borrowed money from Mr Bonongwe. He responded that Mr Bonongwe came with people who knew me. I asked for the names of the people, who upon mentioning their names, I did not recognise. I then told him that firstly, I don’t know Mr Bonongwe. I have never met or talked to him. I also told him that my business has obtained and paid off bank loans to be operational for all these years, why would I decide to borrow money from a Mr Bonongwe? He could not respond,” said Bonongwe.

According to Kambala, he also received a call from another businessperson who claimed that  he overheard Mr Bonongwe complaining to a colleague that Kambala had defrauded him some money.

This businessperson claimed that he was offering to mediate and sort the matter amicably without attracting too much public attention.

“I told him that first I don’t know him or Mr Bonongwe and that I do not fall victim of blackmails and that today I can’t be blackmailed by the two. I finally advised him to warn Mr Bonongwe that he cannot survive on blackmail,” said Kambala.

The former Minister wondered if the attempted blackmail and his case are related.

He complained that his family has been traumatized by his arrest while his business has been adversely affected both locally and internationally.

Kambala added that there is need to for a paradigm shift  from jealousy, witch hunting, fault  finding, evidence planting  and the old practice  of pulling  each other  down  all the time if Malawi is to improve.

“My Mkaka Construction Company business  has been unduly victimized and denied it’s fair share of the market and denied it’s fair share of competition simply because of trumped up allegations against me.

“Experience  has shown that what l and my company  have gone through in the  past 12 months of victimization exudes a bad reflection on the good governance of the country, leading to low morale on domestic investment  and local entrepreneurship and the thrust to develop our country  from within using our own human capital, material  and financial resources, which if properly and fully and optimally utilized could result into multiplier effects and  have a very  huge impact on the demise of the donor dependence syndrome, which  has reduced  our nation to a beggar , always kneeling with a begging bowl to donor nations every year for the 40% donor funded recurrent budgetary  support, which  at 58 years of independence,  in turn mockingly reduces  our nation  to an overgrown baby,” said Kambala.

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