Thursday, April 18, 2024

How Bakili Muluzi Killed Kalonga Stambuli…….and got away with it

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Former President Bakili Muluzi has threatened to kill Vice President Saulos Chilima because Chilima just reminded Malawians that the country does not belong to two families of the Muluzis and Mutharikas. Muluzi killed his close associate Precious Kalonga Stambuli on 29th December 2003 and got away with it. He was serving as President at that time. We will give you a series of stories written by Kalonga Stambuli, exposing Muluzi’s corrupt scandals before fleeing the country but later was wooed back by Muluzi to be Chief Executive Officer at his Trade and Investment Bank, a failed business that Muluzi, with too much money at that time, wanted to start during the last years of his presidency. Atupele Muluzi, Bakili Muluzi’s son was also working at Trade and Investments Bank housed in Delamere House in Blantyre as Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Head of Legal services. Follow the stories until we tell you how Muluzi managed to kill Stambuli and up now still walks free, well other than the K1.7 billion corruption case he is answering in court.

Corrupt activities by Muluzi

By Dr Kalonga Stambuli

Before narrating the involvement of Muluzi in fraud and corruption it is appropriate to obtain a picture of his thinking pattern and the level of collaboration that he would seek in order to carry out fraudulent activity.

His first known criminal record arises from theft of 6.10 pounds. However, unofficial record of his stealth activities goes back to his days at Kapiri Parish School where he bullied and dispossessed classmates of their personal belongings. Anyone who knows Muluzi from those days, including former Inspector General of police Mc William Lunguzi, has no appetite for him.

Theft of 6.10 pounds was carried out during his service as court clerk at Nsinja Traditional Court in Lilongwe. Muluzi was responsible for dispensing maintenance money to divorced women and he would issue government receipts without a duplicate record by simply removing the carbon paper. Muluzi would pocket the money, and spend with his girlfriend Ann Chidzira.

The theft was discovered during routine audit, which found blank duplicate receipts. Because the women were selected at random, there was no consistency from month to month and it took a simple checklist of receipts in one month against another to determine the discrepancy. This landed him in jail for six months in 1968.

After service his sentence, Muluzi returned to his Machinga home where officials who did not know his criminal record enrolled him into the Malawi Young Pioneers in 1969. He was conveniently situated at Nasawa Training Base, which was the recruiting base for members of MYP Intelligence. He brought Ann Chidzira to enlist at the base while he trained in carpentry.

Muluzi thrived in MYP intelligence work and later obtained scholarships to study at Huddersfield in England and in Denmark. He rose through the ranks of Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Youth before Dr Sam Chiotha, the architect of MYP Intelligence operations recommended him to the Ngwazi for appointment as Member of Parliament in 1976. In the years to follow Muluzi got embroiled in theft of proceeds from sale of party cards, which he would reimburse against his salary as Member of Parliament. At a time when Mangochi and Machinga were political sore points Muluzi’s loyalty to Dr. Banda was a key advantage to Malawi Congress Party.

Incidents involving Muluzi in theft came out in the open when Muluzi rose to Secretary General of MCP. In this job he developed a system of creating small jobs and food supply contracts resulting in authorisation of small cheques, which Muluzi personally cashed at Asian shops. In his capacity as Minister of Education, Muluzi would personally cash the cheques at Lambat’s and several other places.

As Muluzi was constantly caught in these acts, with reports reaching the Ngwazi, he persisted in demonstrating his loyalty in ways, which did not cost him a penny. In 1980, he snatched large tracts of land from poor farmers and handed them over as a donation to Dr. Banda. This led to establishment of Mgodi estate, which was later to underwrite the fate of Muluzi.

In the years that followed Muluzi engaged in an orgy of borrowing and extortion. He grabbed more land to establish Atupele, Mpira, and Nainunje estates in Machinga and borrowed from Zomba branches of Commercial Bank of Malawi and National Bank. He also started grabbed sugar qoatas from smaller distributors and amassed a quota of over 150 tonnes per week for himself. He also established Atupele transport while Zomba branches of National Bank and Commercial Bank became his personal financiers.

Muluzi: Required all Asians to pay him in advance

Muluzi’s troubles began when MYP intelligence reported that he was behind a nocturnal operation, moving tobacco bales from Dr. Banda’s Mgodi estate to his estates. Proceeds of tobacco sales were actually deposited into his account. His record in the community was getting very bad as people who entrusted him with their money as deposit for a truck or maize mill got nothing at all. In his farms complaints of non-payment became wide spread and there were more complaints from tenants who were never paid for their tobacco despite a year’s sweat and toil.

The climax came in 1982 when Muluzi authorised cheques for the purchase of 3 trucks for the Malawi Congress Party at a price of K38,000 each. Muluzi himself possessed one of the trucks and he placed it at his estate while it was still registered under Malawi Congress Party. While Dr. Banda agreed to convert the amount into a self-imposed loan, his record was tarnished by complaints regarding abuse of donations intended for the Moslem Association of Malawi. There were also reports of wide spread womanising especially married women, some of which emerged from party faithfuls. A wife of Sydney Somanje, treasurer general of the party had his wife survive an attempted rape at Capital Hotel, when in the middle of a party function she had returned to her room prematurely.

Due to the sensitivity of politics in the Mangochi-Machinga area at the time, Muluzi was asked to resign. Despite his exclusion from the party he demonstrated continued loyalty, purely to remain in good favour with the elite. He used his trucks to ferry women to party functions, and also made donations to the party. He also organised delegations to visit Dr Banda to thank him for various things that he did and did not do. Chief among them was the Road Transport Operators in Malawi, the African Business Association (comprised of Malawian Sugar Distributors), Southern region members of the Tobacco Association in Malawi and the Chamber of Commerce.

Muluzi would have been returned to public position if it were not for his involvement in a major scandal in sugar distribution. Muluzi had succeeded in obtaining a decision barring all Indians from distributing sugar in Malawi. This resulted in more widespread sugar allocations among Malawians, and increased sugar allocations to a few including Muluzi.

This structure meant that Malawians had ready customers from among the Asians who run almost all the wholesales in the country. Under this system sugar was allocated to Malawians on paper and they did not physically have to move it. The Asians would then pay Malawians for the sugar and arrange their own transport only after the Malawian seller had authorised sugar to be released.

Muluzi required all Asians to pay him in advance. At one point he accumulated K10 million worth of advance payments for which he did not pay.

Watch out for the second series tomorrow…..

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