Christmas for Tonse Alliance key partners— Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM—- has come early despite hard economic times most Malawians are facing. Business, which members of Parliament and national executive committees of the two parties run alongside some people associated with the alliance, have shared K12 billion as advance payment from Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP).
At least K12 billion of the K21 billion has already been remitted to the suppliers. The money was paid between July and August 2022 with supplies expected to have been delivered by now. But so far we found out that the Ministry of Energy has extended the deadline to January next year because it has not received supplies though it is unlikely that over half of those given advance payments will meet their contractual obligations.
Suppliers we spoke to blame shortage of foreign exchange for the delay, though a lifestyle audit by The Investigator casts doubt that the funds might still be in the paid bank accounts.
While getting advance payments for contracts is not illegal, The Investigator tracked five politically connected contractors, and found that one had used his billion kwacha plus advance to buy two SUVs, two extra vehicles- for wife and daughter, bought a house and is constructing an accommodation unit.
Two other political connected officials have also splashed their advances on vehicles, including trucks, instead of project materials.
The Investigator can also reveal that some of the companies are linked to silent partners, including relations of senior officials at the State House and Office of the President and Cabinet, as huge sums were withdrawn or transferred into their personal accounts.
In what has become a trend under the Leadership of President Lazarus Chakwera, party officials and those connected to the ruling elite are being given contracts but the majority have no capacity or are using businesses registered in another field to get lucrative contracts. MAREP Phase 9 under the Ministry of Energy has suffered the same fate.
Topping the list of contractors sourced from the Office of the President and Cabinet, is MCP MP for Ntchisi South Ulemu Chilapondwa who trades as Chamachete General Dealers which initially specialised in farm inputs, but was allocated lot 10 of Ndawala component of the project.
His approved advance payment is K1 476 331 173.63. This, according to government payment records, was remitted. Chamachete’s bid was worth K4 279 220 793.13 but was adjusted by K641 883 118.97 to hit K4 921 103 912.10.
Sando Trading of Richard K Ndoro under Ndawala Project bagged itself K 1 070 127 336.68 from its contract of K3 567 091 122.27. This makes this company the second highest paid in terms of remitted funds.
The third highest advance payment at K943 539 071.07 was paid to Phoenix Investments whose owner is listed as Ms Lawrence Faith Chirwa for lot 26 on MAREP phase 9. The total bid for the company was revised to K3 145 130 236.90. The Investigator is yet to get the nature of business the company was doing before venturing into the electricity windfall.
The fourth on the top 10 of those that have received advance payments include Mrs. Getrude Trapence who pocketed K906 669 703.77 through Gemma Trading under lot 22 of the phase 9 of MAREP from a revised contract of K3 022 232 345.91. Though the company was registered sometime back, it is the first time it has landed such a huge government contract.
The fifth highest recipient of the MAREP windfall is Mrs Scollastica Phiri of the African Green Economy whose revised contract is K2 906 545 797.56 saw her company get K872 563 739.27 as advance payment.
Lilongwe East MP and MCP Deputy spokesperson Ezeckiel Ching’oma bagged himself lot 20 under Chings Haulage and General Dealers and pocketed K859 457 961.34 from a contract of K2.864 859 871.12. He is the sixth highest paid contractor in terms of funds remitted.
The seventh contractor bagged K767 436 705.87 from his contract of K2 558 122 352.24 and is identified as Mr MacDonald Kuntaja who trade as Micalas Investment and General Dealers who is followed by K540 203 568.65 paid to Bembeke Tradings Austin Rajab. The total contract is worth K2 701 017 843.26. Bembeke Tradings is the eighth highest paid contractor.
Officials associated with the UTM include Loius Ngalande trading as Loui Holdings Group and got lot 24 worth K1 165 603 799 which saw him pocketing K349 681 139.89 advance payment while Noel Masangwi of Elvis Supplies and General Dealers got K382 917 199.13 from a contract worth K 1 276 390 663.75.
Steve Mikaya, MP for Blantyre City West under his Ezwini Communications, got lot 2 worth K610 775 936.30 and was paid an advance of K183 232 780.89.
We will publish the whole list on December 4, 2022 on who has received the advance payment and won the contracts.
None of the contractors we contacted wanted to speak on record, but MAREP contracts have come under scrutiny for being used as political and corruption leverage.
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