Businessperson Zuneth Sattar blocked Government’s efforts to stop procuring Malawi Police food rations as his company makes exorbitant profits from the food rations, buying each pack at K10,000 and selling to Malawi at about K30,000.
Food rations are meal packs given to police officers when they are carrying out their duties, including providing security for the president along roads.
In October, 2020, the then minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda said the Tonse Alliance had decided to abolish the policy of buying food rations because government was spending a lot of money than would be spent if officers are just given allowances.
The Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ) reported that in January 2021, the then Inspector General George Kainja submitted to the Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu at the time a comparative budget between proposed lunch allowances and dry ration for officers on VVIP operations which also indicated that the Government was spending more money by providing food rations to officers
“Previous Operation Orders have shown that one Presidential Operation draws 2,279 officers. If a minimum launch allowance of K10 000 is paid, it will cost K22, 790, 000 per operation. And if the operations per month are pegged at an average of 9, then it will cost K205, 110, 000 per month.
“But if a dry ration is issued to the 2279 officers at K18 000 per packet, it will translate into K41, 022, 000 per operation and K369, 198,000 for the proposed 9 operations per month,” Kainja wrote.
According to PIJ, the efforts to abolish the food rations displeased Sattar and he intervened.
The UK’s National Crime Agency recorded a call between Sattar and a man believed to be Kainja in which Sattar talked about giving bribes to Kainja and the ex-police IG assured Sattar that he had dealt with concerns about the exorbitant charges attached to food rations.
“According to sources familiar with the contract, following Sattar’s intervention, the police service found a way to delay the ending of the food rations and sought legal backing for the extension of the food rations,” PIJ reported.
On September 13, 2021 the Malawi Police and Sattar’s Xavier Ltd entered into a contract reference number MPS/SB/16/04/2021 for the supply of 350,000 ration packs at a total sum of $7,875,000.00 (about K8 billion).
Citing court documents, PIJ reported that Sattar’s company buys the packs from a South African company at K10,000 each and sells them at about K30,000 each .
“One such contract between his company, Xaviar Limited, and Serac Nutritional Products (SNP) in South Africa illustrates the arrangement.
“SNP produce, supply and transport the ration packs to Malawi with Sattar’s company name on the packaging for USD8 a pack, (around 10 000 kwacha) according to findings by the National Crimes Agency of the UK.
“Sattar’s company, Xaviar Limited does nothing, in the process, but charged the Malawian government USD24 a pack (around 30 000 kwacha),” PIJ reported.
When quizzed by investigators about the exorbitant charges, Sattar claimed it was “all good business and all profit”.
The 41-year-old who is based in the UK was arrested in October last year and is being investigated by the UK’s National Crime Agency and Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau on allegations that he defrauded Malawi Government of tens of millions of dollars from deals to supply meal packs, water cannon, and other equipment to the country’s security forces. Sattar, who is yet to be charged, denies the allegations
In June, the Anti-Corruption Bureau arrested former Inspector General of Malawi Police George Kainja on allegations that he got a vehicle and US$8,000 (about K8 million) from Sattar to facilitate the K8 billion contract.
The bureau alo arrested Deputy Commissioner of Police Mwabi Kaluba who is said to have received US$20,000 (about K20 million) from Sattar for providing assistance in the procurement contract.
Follow us on Twitter: