Tuesday, May 28, 2024

How Bakili Muluzi killed Kalonga…and got away with it (Part 3)

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We continue to give you a dossier of corrupt scandals by former President Bakili Muluzi as exposed by his close aide Precious Kalonga Stambuli before Muluzi killed him in December 2003. This is Part 3


At the onset of the democratic government in 1994, the president approved a suggestion from a British national, Mr. Bruce Evans, to establish the Water Appeal Fund. Its publicly stated aim was to raise funds within Malawi and throughout the world ostensibly to be used to construct boreholes in Malawi. The real motive was, however, to raise funds that could be used to repay loans the President had obtained from Bruce Evans during the campaign, and also to generate resources which the President would call upon to make political donations.

As a front for the credibility of the fund, the President appointed highly placed individuals to the board of trustees, including wife of the British High Commissioner (Kathleen White), Vice Chancellor of the University (Professor Brown Chimphamba), Head of the Catholic Church (Archbishop James Chiona), American Head of Africare, wife of the governor of Reserve Bank of Malawi (Mrs Chikaonda) and Chief Executive of National Bank of Malawi. When Archbishop declined his appointment on health grounds he was replaced by a leading personality in the Anglican Church Bishop Nathaniel Aipa.

A conspicuous feature of the composition of the board of trustees was the complete absence of government representation among the trustees and that; apart from the Vice Chancellor of the university all other trustees were non-Malawians.

A fundraising committee was also established which included the wife of the American Ambassador Peter Chaveas, and wives of other diplomats and chief executives within the private sectors (including Mary Nkosi of FINCOM, Joyce Banda of NABW) and high echelons of government.

A radio announcement was made that Mr Bruce Evans (of Wiltshire in UK) had been appointed International Coordinator of the Water Appeal Fund. He was further handed a letter signed by the President authorising him to establish a bank account for the appeal fund in the UK, such authority being given without the permission or knowledge of the Governor of the Reserve Bank or Minister of Finance.

I was appointed to the board of trustees as a representative of the President and granted universal powers top sign cheques (alone). Other trustees could sign cheques, but on condition that I countersigned. The only other person who could sign cheques alone was a Local Appeal Coordinator who was never recruited.

Bruce Evans alone also operated the account in the UK, and up to now I do not know the name of the bank, let alone domicile, but have evidence that large sums of money have been collected.

In due course donations were received by the fund. Strangely enough, the President approached Islamic organisations to solicit funds for construction of mosques in Malawi, but the cheques were passed on to me with instructions to deposit in the account of the Water Appeal Fund. One cheque for K200,000 actually came from SGS, the pre-shipment inspection company immediately before they were awarded a contract in 1995.

On instructions from the President, cheques were made to Seventh Day Adventist Hospital for Medical Costs incurred by UDF Member of Parliament from Mulanje who was the very first MP to die in Democratic Malawi.

On further instructions from the President cheques were made out in favour of a borehole drilling company belonging to the then Secretary General of the party and Minister of Commerce Harry Thompson, who is now leader of the House and Minister of Natural Resources. The company was run on daily basis by his younger brother and for the first four boreholes that the company (Wells Drilling Company) was paid for only two boreholes were done. The money filtered through into coffers of the party, which was run by his brother and used for other purposes including financing by elections.

Of the two boleholes, one was done immediately outside the house of a sister of the current Minister of Local Government Patrick Mbewe, while the other had to be undertaken at the insistence of father Nsope of the Catholic Church.

One strange donation came from a UK based company FARA estates (from Leicester). Although the amount pledged in writing was 20,000 pounds, I have knowledge of only 10,000 pounds that was paid out. The President inscribed written instructions on a letter requesting me to visit the offices of FARA estates in Limbe and collect a cheque for K140,000 made payable to Livingstonia Synod and only K100,000 made payable to the Water Appeal Fund.

At the time the Livingstonia Sysnod was celebrating centenary celebrations, the cheque was given to Mr. Chihana, then Second Vice President who handed it to Rev Overton Mazunda of the Synod (see Daily Times of 29th July 1997).

Since the only amount collected was only equivalent to 10,000 pounds I telephoned FARA estates to establish mechanisms for payment of the remaining 10,000 pounds and was told that that amount had already been collected in cash to the President who had stopped over in the UK on his return from an OAU meeting in Tunisia in 1994.

Meanwhile, Bruce Evans placed several demands for recovery of costs allegedly incurred in England. The costs allegedly included 3,000 pounds being the costs of his trip to Malawi (air costs to Malawi at the time were 500 pounds only) and some 1,999 pounds for procurement of a computer for recording transactions of the appeal fund. Another claim was in connection with moneys advanced to a girlfriend of the President (Miss Maggie Josephat of ESCOM) who was then studying in Scotland.

The President (in his own handwriting) authorised these amounts. I pretended that there were no funds in the account of the Appeal Fund and deferred payment to a later date.

In due course, Bruce Evans started raising funds in the UK the amounts of which were never made known to me, except on a few occasions the President asked me to draft letters (for his signature) thanking various people and organisations in England for making donation.

During one of my visits to the UK Bruce Evans openly challenged that he had spent too much money financing the party during the camping and that the fund had been established at his behest to recover his money.

Part 3 ends here

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