Sat, 15 Aug 2020

BLANTYRE - Police in Malawi have arrested a bodyguard of former President Peter Mutharika for allegedly helping him avoid nearly $7 million in import duties. Mutharika has denied knowledge of the scheme, which saw cement for construction of his private property imported duty free.

Norman Chisale is one several people whom police arrested Tuesday for alleged involvement in the cement importation deal.

Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed the arrest but refused further comment to avoid jeopardizing the investigation.

"So, I am not in a position now to give out details as far as the issue surrounding the arrests is concerned," he spoke via a messaging app.

Kadadzera, however, said besides Chisale, police are interrogating several other people on the matter.

On Friday, police arrested the former deputy commissioner general of the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Roza Mbilizi, for facilitating the importation of the duty-free cement.

Records show that the MRA gave Mutharika the clearance to make the duty-free cement importations in three tranches, with each consignment valued at $2.24 million.

Mutharika has denied knowing about the scheme; but, a businessman implicated in the deal, Ahmed Chunara, told police that the imports were initiated by State House officials.

The arrests are part of an anti-corruption crackdown initiated after Mutharika lost the June 23rd presidential election and new President Lazarus Chakwera took office.

Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party, now in the opposition, says the campaign amounts to political persecution.

Political analyst Sheriff Kaisi said the arrests were expected.

"When government changes, you should expect such kind of things to happen. They want to do the checks and balances, probably doing the audit of how the previous government was transacting their businesses," he spoke via a messaging app.

Chisale is expected to appear in court to face charges Wednesday.

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