…East Bridge, Namibian Nendongo claims billions
…MCP cadres in Beira hunting for fertiliser
There is no fertiliser from Turkey as the Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale has continued to trumpet in the media, but ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP) officials are busy in the Mozambican port city of Beira to procure fertiliser, which will be used to claim billions of kwachas from Malawi Government.
The two companies which have local MCP emissaries as local contacts have now started preparing to file lawsuits against the government claiming breach of contract and that they had spent up to K10 billion to prepare for the supplies, when in fact they don’t have any grain of the commodity.
The Investigator Magazine broke the story of the East Bridge Estate Srl, a Malawian company Agriculture Minister Sam Kawale vouched to have done due diligence and that it was Romanian based with fertiliser production lines and sales across the world, which has been proven to be a pack of lies and we can report they are hunting for the commodity in Beira.
The Investigator Magazine has received information of a secret government account with billions of kwacha in it, which allegedly was used to buy vehicles for the judiciary recently, and could be used to pay for the fertiliser in Beira, which we can reveal is not from Turkey but already in Beira.
Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe and Governor of the Reserve Bank Dr. Wilson Banda told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the government was recalling its sovereign guarantees in the East Bridge fertiliser deal on June 30, 2023, but Agriculture Minister Sam Kawale told the media on July 20, 2023, that fertiliser was on its way from Turkey.
The Ministry was forced to cancel the deal with Namibian Nendongo Commercial Group worth K150 billion after concerns were raised about the capacity of the company.
The Investigator Magazine was vindicated by Gwengwe and Banda’s letter of intent to the IMF which confirmed that the deal failed to get necessary legal approvals as observed by Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda.
K150 bn Namibian fertiliser deal now goes to court
Taxpayers should not be prepared to finance legal battles due to the recklessness of the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Finance, as the K150 billion deal with a Namibian oil company is about to become a full legal battle, with the company claiming it already shipped some fertiliser.
Nendongo Commercial Group through its local lawyer Chancy Gondwe has told Sunday Times that it has procured K3.4 billion fertiliser (4,000 tons) which is already at Beira and that it will be seeking compensation from the government for loss of profits.
The company, however, which does not deal with fertiliser, according to our contacts in Namibia, is negotiating to buy fertiliser in Beira from a company whose identity we are holding and there is no shipment that came at the port of Beira in the name of Nendongo group.
The deal which saw Gwengwe issue a sovereign guarantee to a Zimbabwean-owned Auzano Capital Management to get financing for the 200,000 tons of fertiliser, could not proceed as NCG claims the company delayed in issuing a letter of credit.
“It is a joke that NCG is trying to steal from Malawi Government. This shows how shallow their knowledge of fertiliser industry is. Fertiliser is a sensitive international trade commodity, you must track the source and its destination. There is no record of this NCG group shipping 4,000 tons at Beira. You can’t just say I bought fertiliser without a destination and proper guarantees. If the condition was, they will get a Letter of Credit before procurement and they chose to spend money to buy 4,000mt tones without it, that is their recklessness, not Malawi Government. They can’t claim from the people of Malawi when they decided to proceed on their contract when the conditions were not met,” explained a lawyer who has been working with the fertiliser industry.
NCG claim that they bought fertiliser from outside Africa cannot hold as The Investigator Magazine has information about some of the MCP associate’s movements in Beira who are trying to get fertiliser there to pretend they were fulfilling their contracts.
“The idea is to make the claim from a bad deal. They will ask for more, but then negotiate with Attorney General and settle for something less. Malawians should watch. If they have 4,000 tons ready without LoC, why can’t they bargain to supply it and close the matter? I can assure you they are negotiating in Beira with company x which is demanding upfront payment,” said our source.
East Bridge pretending to file suit as well.
East Bridge Estates, owned by fugitive Paul Mphwiyo, using its media agents, has also reported said it will be seeking K250 billion compensation for the cancelled deal. This will be the theft of the century for a company built on lies and owning nothing until it signed the deal with the gullible officials in the Ministry of Agriculture.
“They have had the Minister who has been doing their bidding, repeating, and changing statements every week. The fertiliser moved from Romania to Turkey after The Investigator Magazine called out his lies. The Minister even told the whole nation they had already paid for the fertiliser,” said our main source at the Ministry.
Mphwiyo and his fellow directors Ted Moya and Likhwa Mussa have left the country and some of their families have moved houses, according to our investigations Moya was tracked in Beira as well where he was searching for fertiliser.
“There are stocks of fertiliser in Beira everyone wants to send to Malawi. They told the company government is buying. The supplier is apprehensive as he knows there is no foreign exchange in Malawi. The problem is they will get small supplies in Malawi and claim a breach of contract, what has delayed is that they don’t have money to pay upfront for the commodity,” said another gentleman part of the deal.
Kawale’s fertiliser claim should raise serious questions as to who paid for the commodity as Mphwiyo and the company have no capacity to pay for anything and likely might have bolted after receiving some funds for logistics.
“There is a secret stash fund that is being used. If the fertiliser comes, it will come from this source,” said another source who said the money paid into the NBS account for the East Bridge Directors could have come from this source as well. The Investigator Magazine has sent questions to all relevant agencies, and we will publish more about this account soon.
Let them sue, the people will join
The Investigator Magazine has mobilised four members of parliament, two civic organisations, and two farmer’s groups that will join in any fertiliser deal case to enable Malawians to get a voice and representation where their taxes could be used to settle dubious deals.
“We will ask to join the case on behalf of the people with sufficient interest both as taxpayers and farmers who benefit from subsidy. This racket needs to be stopped. We hope Ministers, Directors, and Suppliers will be invited and attend court where the people can ask questions. It’s high time we stopped impunity. Section 12 of the constitution is clear about accountability,” said The Investigator Magazine legal team leader.
The teams will be submitting to the Attorney General its position on the matter and that it should be challenged in court for the public to see the exact nature of the deal.
“These companies suing is great for public accountability, we can all examine the deal-making process and who is behind these companies, tracks source of funds and fertiliser through a public court. We look forward to joining the matter,” she said.
Chakwera waking up now
A highly placed source claimed that President Chakwera has had a session with Gwengwe and Kawale where he was annoyed with the fact that Kawale had told him he had obtained all necessary approvals for the deal when it was not the case.
“This deal is damaging, any claim of funds will be very damaging as it will show that this was the set up all along to siphon government funds. It does not make sense that the Ministry of Agriculture, soon after the K750 million butchery saga would be this careless and cost Malawians more billions when they can’t deliver fertiliser,” charged a Ministry of Agriculture.
Chakwera has yet to comment or act on the matter, which has raised questions on why he cannot deal with his wayward officials who keep signing bad deals with questionable characters that most decent people would avoid.
“His Ministers sign and defend these deals. All the deals handled by Ministers have turned into fraud like sagas,” said a parliamentarian who is expected to table a request for an open inquiry on the matter as the last one was not conclusive.
K500 billion heist
East Bridge’s claim to K250 billion and Nendongo’s K150 billion including legal costs could see Malawians pay over K20 billion to the two companies who have never supplied a grain of fertiliser to anyone in the world, making it one of the biggest heists in the world.
“These companies and their associates cannot show you contracts of similar amounts or capacity of the same worldwide. They found very stupid people who got excited with the mention of billions of kwacha cuts, and they signed every document given to them,” said an angry analyst.
He said negligence displayed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Finance in many deals and wanton issuance of sovereign guarantees means the country’s purse is not safe as many contracts are being signed without proper due diligence.
“One day, someone will have to account to Malawians how they arrive at these decisions which can cost the country billions in compensation when it could be avoided if they used simple logic to avoid shortcuts,” said a Treasury official.
It is reported that the Reserve Bank of Malawi has raised concerns that Treasury is giving out Sovereign Guarantees like Christmas cards.