COMPILED BY STANLEY ONJEZANI KENANI
In case you have forgotten, let me remind you the details of the Zameer Karim case ;
1. On 4 August 2015, the Malawi Police Service and Pioneer Investments signed a contract for the supply of 500,000 ration packs for a contract of K2,327,087,500 (in short, K2.3 billion). Mr. Duncan Mwapasa signed for the Police while Zameer Karim signed for Pioneer Investments.
2. However, on 10 August, six days after signing the contract, Zameer Karim wrote Innocent Botomani, Director of Finance in the Malawi Police Service, requesting for an upward price adjustment of the contract by 20 per cent. Zameer Karim cited the depreciation of the Malawi Kwacha against the United States dollar as a reason for the price adjustment. However, between 4 and 10 August, the Kwacha had depreciated by only 1.6 per cent against the dolar (i.e. by less than 2 per cent).
3. On 12 August, Botomani (who prefers to spell his name as Bottoman), on his own and without the approval of the Internal Procurement Committee (IPC) or the Office of the Director of Public Procurement, approved a 20 per cent upwards price adjustment of the contract to K2,703,087,500 (i.e. by K466,000,000). According to Regulation 132 and 155 as read together with the Public Procurement Act, Botomani had no such powers.
4. The story turns. Although Zameer Karim had been awarded the contract to supply rations, he had no money to do so. Months earlier, long before the IPC sat to assess six bids for the supply of the rations (which it did on 2 June 2015), Botomani, on 10 February 2015, wrote CDH Investment Bank and made an undertaking – on behalf of the Malawi Police Service – to remit K970,284,00p for Pioneer Investment to CDH with regard to the ration packs contract. What this means is the Malawi Police advanced capital to Zameer Karim, which is illegal. All this was happening long before the bids were even opened and discussed, which means the whole procurement process was fraudulent.
5. Mr Botomani signed the letter of undertaking to CDH while the purported signature of Tadius Samveka, the Deputy Director of Finance, was forged. Samveka disowned the signature and the undertaking to CDH.
6. Again on 16 July 2015, Botomani and Zameer Karim made an undertaking to CDH that the Malawi Police Service would remit K2,125,000,000 to the bank to enable Pioneer Investments to obtain a loan from the said bank to finance the ration pack contract. Which contract? Remember, the contract was only awarded on 4 August 2015, so at this time there was no contract. Zameer Karim forged Tadius Samveka’s signature.
7. According to section 63 of the Public Finance Management Act, it is only the Minister of Finance who can give a guarantee or indemnity on behalf of the Malawi government with the approval from the cabinet and report to the National Assembly. Botomani and Karim usurped powers of state to do this all by themselves.
8. Mr. Grant Kachingwe, the in-charge Accounts Officer at the Police Headquarters, forged Mr. Tadius Samveka’s signature on a manual payment voucher for the payment of K2,793,087,500 to Pioneer Investments. Botomani instructed Kachingwe to sign on behalf of Mr. Samveka.
9. Again Grant Kachingwe forged Mr. Tadius Samveka’s signature on a systems payment voucher for the same payment of K2,793,087,500 to Pioneer Investments. Again Botomani instructed Kachingwe to sign on behalf of Mr. Samveka.
10. On 17 November 2015, Botomani wrote the Secretary to the Treasury to fund and pay Pioneer Investments K2,793,087,500 with regard to tue ration packs contract.
11. Zameer Karim gave instructions to the Malawi Police Service to pay Pioneer Investments directly, and not through CDH Bank as per the undertaking with the bank.
12. Regardless of the undertaking, Botomani paid a cheque of K2,793,087,500 directly to Pioneer Investments. Pioneer Investments did not remit the money to CDH to settle the loan.
13. On 11 April 2016, the Malawi Police Service prepared a payment voucher No. 341PV4003645 of K2,793,087,500 to Pioneer Investments.
14. On the same day, i.e. 11 April 2016, Zameer Karim received a cheque of K2,793,087,500 from the Malawi Police Service on cheque No. 127572.
15. On 13 April 2016, Zameer Karim issued a cheque of K145 million from a Pioneer Investment account to Standard Bank account No. 014003192200 belonging to Peter Mutharika, and Peter Mutharika is the sole signatory of this account. From January to October 2016, Peter Mutharika made cheque withdrawals totalling K65 million from the said account.
16. Zameer Karim did not pay the loan back to CDH.
17. In 2017 CDH sued Zameer Karim t/a Pioneer Investments and the Attorney-General for failing to settle debts to the bank. Remember, the Malawi Police Service was the guarantor of the loan.
18. On 23 November 2017, the court entered a consent judgement for Zameer Karim and the Attorney-General to pay CDH K1,514,756,318.88.
19. Pioneer Investments delivered 500,000 ration packs from August to November 2015 and was paid on 11 April 2016.
20. On 30 June 2017, Pioneer Investments claimed K567,866,013.38 as interest for late payment for the contract. There was no clause in the contract that addressed interest for late payment.
21. On 18 August 2017, the Secretary to the Treasury, Mr. Ben Botolo, wrote the Auditor-General to verify the interest claims of K567,866,013.38 by Pioneer Investment. Furthermore, to verify other interest claims made by Farm Chem and Astro Chem of K163,036,787.44 and K137,168,129.08 respectively. Zameer Karim owns both companies.
22. On 22 August 2017, the Auditor-General, S. Kamphasa, wrote the Secretary to the Treasury advising that he approved the interest arrears of K567,866,013.38 owed to Pioneer Investments.
23. On 12 September, 2017, the Auditor-General reversed his decision and revoked the certificate of payment. He claimed that he had come across new evidence against the payment of the interest claim which the Malawi Police Service did not provide to him earlier.
Zameer Karim, Innocent Botomani and Grant Samveka will not be tried because the Malawi government does not have money to try them. The only money it has is for trying Mzomera Ngwira, who stole K250,000.