CDEDI takes Attorney General headon over misappropriated funds at Salima Sugar Company

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By Iommie Chiwalo

The country’s Attorney General has been taken head on over his approach in addressing recovery of misappropriated funds by Salima Sugar Company (SSCL).

In a letter addressed to AG Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda, the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) says the government’s principal legal advisor owes Malawians an explanation which is evidently pointing towards selective justice in additional to preferential treatment.

The follow up by CDEDI comes after the November 2023 forensic audit commissioned by the Malawi Government on SSCL that brought to light reports that about US$30 million (about MK51billion) was misappropriated and Nyirenda vowed that money lost from the state enterprises will be recovered.

CDEDI is now wondering on the sudden change of approach by the Attorney General after learning that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Masauko Chamkakala, confirmed that the accounts for Mount Meru were now unfrozen only after pleading for ‘mercy’ after convincing government that they want to be its witness in the misappropriated funds saga.

By the current approach, CDEDI fears that all those implicated in the said audit report are at liberty to plead for mercy so much that they should be off the hook as per the
reasoning of current SSCL Executive Chairman Wester Kosamu, who is quoted in the media as saying most of the funds believed to have been mismanaged, was deducted from the shares.

CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa feels going by current trends, Attorney General lied to Malawians that all the
money purportedly mismanaged according to the said audit, would be recovered.

“Therefore,
for the sake of your own credibility and respect for the office you are currently serving and in line with section 13(O), CDEDI on behalf of Malawian taxpayers and voters is challenging
you Bwana AG to either withdraw the undertaking which is on tape or else in your capacity as government’ principal legal advisor, ensure that the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM)
should recover all the proceeds from the sugar sold to Rwanda and restore the case against Mount Meru just like the rest of those on the wanted list, stemming from the same audit report,” says Namiwa in a letter that has also been copied to Director of Public Prosecutions.

He has further requested AG Nyirenda to inform the nation about the legal provision that gives powers to the current SSCL Executive Chairperson, Wester Kosamu to decide who should be state witness on matters that are ordinarily in the hands of state agencies.

“At this time when the public debt stands at unsustainable levels at a staggering MK13 trillion,
and as per your own admission that Malawi Government obtained multiple loans to invest
in SSCL, it is our conviction that any slight departure from your word on recovery, will be
construed as highly insensitive on the plight of the taxpayer given the current economic woes,” Namiwa said.

He has warned that CDEDI will stop at nothing but write the Indian Government to rescind its decision to cancel Malawi’s debts, should AG’s office decide to let loose Mount Meru and let the country lose out on the forex realised from the sugar export to Rwanda.

SSCL exported 1500MT of Sugar to Rwanda and the proceeds are said to have been misappropriated but unevidently settled through shares, according to Kosamu.

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