By Malawi Exclusive
What came just as a rumour that Malawi Vice President Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima party UTM bought 44 brand new vehicles is slowly becoming a reality.
According to Nation on Sunday the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) says it is examining queries from a private citizen who has questioned the source of funding 44 new vehicles he claims UTM Party has allegedly acquired through Khwesi Msusa, a contractor and an alleged sympathiser of the party.
According to the paper ACB Director General Martha Chizuma said in an interview that the bureau is currently screening two complaints from one individual regarding UTM vehicles.
The move by the graft-busting body comes amid calls for a broader probe into an alleged procurement of 200 vehicles by UTM Party. UTM has only confirmed that it had bought just 11 vehicles for its legislators. Coincidentally the party has only 4 MPs in Parliament.
Concerned citizen, Gosten Chinseu, earlier wrote ACB on the matter and has, again submitted the complaint asking the bureau to probe the issue.
He claimed in his complaint to ACB: “To put things into perspective, Mr Msusa is a very senior UTM Party member who has been part of (Vice President) Saulos Chilima’s campaign team, both [ahead of the] 2019 and 2020 elections. To this day, he still remains in the Vice-President’s inner circle.
“What makes this matter even more serious is that Mr Msusa is not employed and does not earn amounts of money proportional to the [cost of the] 44 vehicles. As an interested citizen, I believe the purchase of the vehicles and the strong bond between the two is not mere coincidence.”
Chinseu asked the ACB to look into the matter and reach a conclusion.
He argues that the bureau must remember that the democratic dispensation in which Malawi is operating calls for absolute transparency and accountability on how political parties get their funding.
Charles Banda a Businessman based in Area 24 says Vice President and UTM leader Saulos Chilima should come out clear on the funding of this procurement.
Banda said spending K3 billion to buy 200 new vehicles for his party in preparation of the 2025 Presidential election brings a lot of unexplained questions.
“The revelations come as a surprise because UTM is the youngest party on the land having been founded in 2018 the purchase of new vehicles and other assets makes UTM the richest party in Malawi, dwarfing all the other major parties like Malawi Congress Party, Democratic Progressive Party, United Democratic Front and Peoples Party.” He said.
He said the current situation brings to light the need for Parliament and other stakeholders to revisit the issue around political party financing.
Funding of political parties is in line with Section 40(2) of the Constitution but for UTM the situation is different due to its meagre numbers in Parliament.
The enactment of the Political Parties Act by Parliament opened a way for all parties that have a one-tenth threshold in Parliament to have their financial accounts audited.
Despite coaxing new Members of Parliament to their fold, UTM appears in records to have four legislators as per the 2019 Parliamentary election outcome. As such they fall short of the one-tenth of 193 seats of Parliament.
Political observers say UTM presents a headache in this regard because they are at liberty to accumulate assets yet they cannot be audited as per law.
The observers say UTM must explain to Malawians how they are getting rich at a faster rate than normal.