…leaked email expose Chikuni’s bidding
…Chakwera goes mute on scandals
President Lazarus Chakwera’s silence is telling in relation to the matters of Chief Obinna Amucheinwa, a Nigerian dobadoba, whom, Secretary to the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba is pushing for his companies to get fuel and power generation contracts, come rain, come sun.
The Investigator Magazine analysis of the latest leaked document and emails between Secretary for Energy Alfonso Chikuni and others, including a draft Power Purchase Agreement, indicates that the man Zamba calls “Chief” or his agents were in Malawi where they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would see him build a 1000mw solar farm.
President Chakwera, who recently equated his role as that of being a traffic police officer rather than a driver, seems to have surrendered the running of his administration to Zamba, whose dealings at the Ministries of Energy and Education, firing of Anti-Corruption Bureau Director General Martha Chizuma and revelations that she brought an already signed contract at National Oil Company (NOCMA) seems to go unquestioned by the President himself.
Chief visited Malawi- Chikuni
On Monday, 12th June, Alfonso Chikuni, sent an email to Kumwenda, Maxwell Muli Makwenda (ESCOM) and Henry Kachaje giving the three a draft copy of the PPA which indicated that had already been signed at the behest of Chief’s delegation.
“You will recall that we had meetings with US-based investors on 300MW solar thermal at the MERA officer (office). – The attachments will remind you. The Ministry signed an MoU during their mission,” wrote Chikuni with the subject “Review of the Conditional PPA.”
This confirms that Chief’, who is the main signatory of the company was in Malawi either in April or May and made (if not demanded) with the influence of high-level government official to have a PPA agreement signed before due diligence and other protocols were followed.
Chikuni, having already signed the PPA, is now set to fly into the USA apparently to do due diligence, which is a cover up of another botched public finance commitment which President Chakwera’s administration seems to specialise in.
“However, you will also recall that they requested a conditional PPA to be signed which should enable them to start dialogue with their financiers to which we granted consent. We shared our duly approved template. They have now made input,” said Chikuni in the email copied to Solicitor General Allison Mbang’ombe, whom he asks to assist “with framing the Conditions Precedent.”
The PPA signed with reference WAPC/ESC/MW/MOE/2023O6.01 dated June 1st, has a different company name than what Chikuni and company are now scheduled to visit in Utah, USA whose address was traced to a charity farm.
Chikuni does not indicate the “We” who granted consent to Chief to start raising money for the project whose details, feasibility study and location is not yet known.
The company was that signed agreement was listed as Westland-ACSG Power Company Limited but the letter heads for the invitation now reads ACSG-POWER PROJECT CONSORTIUM raising questions as to which legal entity has Chikuni and company married ESCOM with.
Chief drafted own agreement.
Like the Romanian fertiliser deal or the butchery deal, President Lazarus Chakwera’s administrations continues to play “fool” to shoddy businesspeople who hide their faces and cannot pass public scrutiny in deals worth billions of kwachas.
A copy of the conditional agreement Chikuni committed ESCOM to raises, key good governance questions including how the company was identified, the legal status of the company, the location of the company.
Our main investigator in the case indicates that crucial to the contract is the location and feasibility study before anything can be agreed to, which seems Chikuni did not have in mind when he “gave consent to a PPA” that has never happened in the Ministry of Energy.
“Just like Hellen Buluma told parliament that Zamba had an already signed contract from “Chief”, this too looks like was signed and Chikuni is lying when he keeps saying “we”. Nobody in the Ministry sat down and discussed that MoU or the PPA he is referring to,” she said.
This PPA, in our own conclusion was drafted by “Chief” and only forced upon ESCOM which is the same fashion Zamba and Chikuni wanted to force NOCMA to procure fuel from Chief.
Chief to install 1000mw plant
Baarkat Butchery, Birdgin Foundation, East Bridge Estates and Nendongo Fertiliser scams, one would have expected President Chakwera’s administration to “wake up” and learn from previous comic but sad episodes in public procurement.
Chief, a man whose company only updated its energy sector role late 2022 is expected to raise at least K500 billion for 300MW during its first phase and later accumulating to 1000MW which will see Malawi join the league of major electricity producers on the continent.
The PPA agreement stipulates that it is valid for “20 years from start” meaning it could well run into 2043 or 2070 when Chakwera and the majority of his “deal makers” are likely going to be very far from the seat of power.
“You need 1200 hectares for a 300MW solar power plant. You will need over 4,000 hectares for such a project to reach 1000MW. Chief’s home Nigeria has lowest intake of solar energy and has power shortages, he opts to invest in Malawi when he can make a killing in Nigeria. It does not need a primary school chap to see that this is another scam,” analysed a solar expert, who said only Egypt has developed a 2500MW solar farm in Africa.
The 1000MW plant would cost over US$1 billion for a country with local export products cannot access finance for such a mega project, which shows the paperwork is proposed just to raise finances and dump the project.
Government has failed to bring the investor “Chief” into public as they fear he could be revealed his true nature of character and business across the world.
Chief whose main address is Abuja, Nigeria seems to have shifted the energy consortium to USA where individuals related to his “Consortium” cannot be readily traced again.
“He was granted consent to start raising money, that means nothing can stop this project. Chikuni will do all he can to do the bidding of whoever is behind the project,” said our source.
There is no land designated for the project.
PML winding up had no “Chiefs” company.
The Investigator Magazine sought to establish how long the “Chiefs” company has been in energy sector in Malawi and could not find any application at the folded state-owned Power Markets Limited, which means the Ministry of Energy had the PPA ready as they winded up of the PML.
The final list of PPA’s for PML shows 37 PPAs were signed with some projects being rolled while others feasibility studies were being done. None of the PPAs belong to the ACSG group of the Chief.
All PPAs indicate the location of the projects.
Among the PPAs are Quantel which intends to produce 50MW Solar Power at Bwengu in Mzimba, Atlas (40MW-solar) at Balaka and already 20MW approved, Serengeti Nkhotakota (21MW-solar), Votalia (40MW-solar) at Dwangwa in Nkhotakota and JCM with a total of 60MW solar at Golomoti and Salima which is already operational. EGENCO also has a PPA for a solar farm with 20MW in Salima.
Green Cells in Zomba is expected to produce 34MW from solar but did not sign the PPA, Elsewedy Electric with 50MW solar at Phombeya but not concluded negotiations, Larsern and Turbo with 100mw solar at Phombeya now undertaking full feasibility study.
AMEA in Lilongwe is targeting 50mw, while a partnership of Press Corporation and Ashtron want to produce 50MW at Nkhoma in Lilongwe.
YM power has suggested 151.5MW Kindwe Wind Farm in Dedza districts. A firm identified as Droege proposed a floating 20M solar farm at Monkeybay and 50mw at Mzimba from Windmills.
Other companies with major projects include Jindal with a 350MW coal plant at Liwonde, Rukuru with a 100MW coal plant and Rudevit/Greenstone Energy with a 100MW hydro power plant on North Rukuru. JF Investments is exploring a 300 LNG Gas power project in Mchinji.
Illovo Sugar company is exploring Bagesse Power project for its Dwangwa and Nchalo factories while the Mpatamanga hydro plant is expected to generate up to 350MW.
According to Chikuni and Kumwenda, people who got most of the PPA’s have sold them or disappeared. He could not however say which capacity “Chief” has to deliver 1000MW.
Did Chief meet President Chakwera?
The President has met “Chief” outside Malawi, but our Investigators could not ascertain that he met the President during his visit, or his proxies visit to Malawi alluded to by Chikuni.
“The question of who he met in Malawi can be solved if one gets his picture,” said our source at State House. The Investigator Magazine has obtained the pictures.
We are validating two photographs obtained by our investigators that indicate that the man in question is the “Chief” and we will ascertain his movements from his documents and proximity to Zamba and President Chakwera’s travels in 2022 and 2023.
“The President is aware, Zamba does not operate in vacuum. At first it was the former Chief of staff who was sent by the President’s, now to a close person whom the President refers to everything to do with business,” said our source close to the OPC.
In our print edition out this July we explore the power politics surrounding President Chakwera’s three years in office and identify people with huge influence on the office.
According to our source the link between the President, Zamba and Chief can be explained by examining the role of Eva Kamwangala, who was named by Buluma as someone who Zamba referred to when being pressured to award contract to “Chief.”
“How is this lady connected to Secretary to the President and Cabinet as mentioned by Buluma at Parliament? Is there connection with State House or anyone in the Presidents family?” our team of investigated the matter and identified a long running link between State House and the lady which will be published in our print edition.
Chakwera mute on all bad deals
The President has opted to look the other way as his Ministers, SPC and Government officials are being called out on bad deals that have become a hallmark of his administration in three years he has been in power.
Elected on the promise of a clean administration, the President’s images have appeared next to suspicious characters in various deals that are being exposed to have broken procurement regulations while he is on mute with no action being taken.
“Apart from Kambala and company, no one has been arrested or prosecuted under this regime. Corruption seems to have been officialised. Looking at how short cuts are being made to push multibillion-kwacha contracts that commits Malawi to paying huge sums of money in future and a President playing a blind eye to all this, tells you where he stands,” said a political analyst at one of public university.
Chikuni was kingpin of Salima Lilongwe Water Project
Giving contracts without feasibility studies or due diligence seems to be the character of Alfonso Chikuni as an analysis of his previous public offices seem to point to similar patterns.
His stay at Lilongwe Water Board reveals he was instrumental to awarding of a K500 billion contract to Khato Civils for the Lake Malawi Water project that had no feasibility studies nor environmental impact assessment studies done.
The contract still haunts Malawians today and the Chakwera administration has decided the whole country will borrow to finance the project that has too many questions and is unlikely to succeed.
“Every of the challenge, breaking of rules and strange contract awarded to that project he was there. For many that know how that worked, nothing strange that he will do all he can to give Chief a contract,” said a very senior public official who said whoever proposed him to head Energy Ministry had an agenda.
“Years later he is back, another bidding, two public corporations, NOCMA and ESCOM being pushed to sign agreements that do not make sense, no due diligence and literary imposing them just as he did with the Salima Lilongwe Water Project at Lilongwe Water Board,” he concluded.
Part 3 coming soon: The Investigator Magazine will publish the photo of Chief once validated and the draft NOCMA justification awarding 80,000MT fuel contract using single sourcing method.
Editors Note: We are an advocacy Journalism entity, which advocates for transparency and accountability in governance and utilisation of public finances to create a free, just, and equal society. This is a form of journalism now being developed across the world to do public good as most mainstream media outlets are commercialised and politically biased. Malawi currently looses half of its public finances to theft, bribery, and corruption. We are examining 120 public contracts and we will continue exposing shortfalls. We have sent 300 Access to Information requests which have largely been ignored by public agencies save for Treasury and Financial Intelligence Agency. We will publish stories related to these agencies from 1 July, 2023.