BLANTYRE-Investigation by Shire Times points to the fact that the reluctance by former President Peter Mutharika to grant the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) an interview on the abuse of his Taxpayer Identification Number (Tpin) is a scheme to protect his cronies.
Mutharika, as State President then, was entitled to duty free importation of goods but it transpired that some of his cronies including his bodyguard Norman Chisale also illegally enjoyed the presidential privilege by importing goods worth billions of kwacha duty free.
Chisale got arrested in July for for procurement of cement worth K5 billion from Zambia and Zimbabwe which entered the country duty free using Mutharika’s presidential privilege.
But as reported the Sunday Times, the K5 billion is just a tip of the iceberg as more billions of kwacha were reportedly ‘stolen’ through importation of various goods using Mutharika’s Tpin.
Interestingly, the findings come hard on the heels of the threats made by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Shadreck Namalomba against the graft busting body to stop pursuing Mutharika
According to Sunday Times, ACB is not only interested in cement saga when they Mutharika but also to interrogate the former president on how the billions were swindled using his identity.
“It is not just about cement importation; there are individuals mentioned in records as having benefitted from abusing the former president’s privileges,” the source said as quoted by the local paper.
The paper indicates that there are more people implicated in the Tpin saga who are being trailed by ACB in line with the information that the graft-busting body acquired from institutions such as MRA.
Political and social commentator George Phiri of University of Livingstonia is of the view that more details about how Mutharika’s Tpin was used will come out if the former president grants ACB an interview.
Mutharika has been dodging the graft-busting body with his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) eventually accusing the bureau of persecuting him.
“When you are clean, you cannot refuse to be investigated. If the former president, who no longer enjoys immunity from prosecution, knows he did nothing wrong, he should allow ACB to do its work,” Phiri said.
Another political commentator Sheriff Kaisi said in a separate interview that in a normal scenario, Mutharika would take the interview with ACB as an opportunity to clear speculation and allegations levelled against him.
Shire Times understands that there will be mass arrests in connection to the Mutharika’s Tpin abuse.
Under the Mutharika’s regime, DPP officials became instant billionaires. A mere bodyguard Chisale is currently estimated to have property worth billions of Kwacha yet his salary was less than K500 000.
Other officials who accumulated wealth overnight include Ben Phiri, Kondwani Nankhumwa, the former First Lady Getrude Mutharika and her son Tadikira Mafudza.