A South African company has sent a K214 million bill to President Joyce Banda for iron sheets the firm claims it supplied to Mudzi Transformation Trust, but which apparently never reached the Head of State’s pet organisation.
Mudzi Transformation Trust has denied ever receiving the materials from either the said South African firm—Engineering&Elec Supplies of Weltevreden Park in Johannesburg—or its local sister company, Engelec International Malawi, based in Lilongwe’s Old Town.
The trust also says it has no contract with either of the companies.
Our investigations show that with the facilitation of People’s Party (PP) member Tony Ngalande—an aspiring parliamentarian for Balaka North Constituency— Engineering&Elec Supplies met and struck a “gentleman’s agreement” with President Banda in September 2013 to supply the materials to the trust.
A source at Engelec International Malawi claimed that between September 2 and 4 2013, Ngalande accompanied Eugene Labuschagne of Engineering&Elec Supplies to meet President Banda in Blantyre where it was discussed that the company supply iron sheets to Mudzi Transformation Trust.
“[Since then], iron sheets have been coming into the country for the project and were being kept at Engelec International Malawi warehouses in Lilongwe. The initial supply came into the country accompanied by truck load of PP branded T-shirts, 2000 of them were bearing Ngalande’s face,” said the source.
Another source, a close associate of Labuschagne, corroborated the role Ngalande played in linking the South African firm official to President Banda.
Everything appeared smooth and iron sheets flowed to Malawi, but when months elapsed without receiving any payment, Engineering&Elec Supplies was alarmed.
The firm started to pester its local sister company to collect the payments, but when no money flowed, it sent a bill to President Banda.
A statement of invoices from Engineering&Elec Supplies that Nation on Sunday has seen is addressed to “Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda, the State President of the Republic of Malawi, Mudzi Transformation Trust, Lilongwe, Malawi.”
The October 31 statement shows that between September 19 and October 23 2013, the firm supplied materials to Mudzi and issued 10 different invoices.
The total amount being claimed in South African rand, according to the statement, is ZAR4 679 734. 30 (approximately K214 million). A well-placed source at Engelec Malawi has corroborated this information.
In one communication dated November 5 2013, Engineering&Elec Supplies’ Labuschagne wrote Engelec Malawi managing director Bob Kapanga, demanding that he collects the money from Mudzi and other customers to ensure that the payment to South Africa is made.
“I need a minimum of ZAR5 million down here by the 20th… Perhaps Tony can organise payment for the government invoices…also ask Tony about forex transfers…perhaps he can help,” he wrote.
Our Engelec Malawi source claimed that the Tony mentioned in the communication was the PP member—Tony Ngalande.
The source said Ngalande has been dealing with Kapanga on the iron sheets supplies.
“As a company we had no problems, but we only asked to have a contract drawn, but our bosses went ahead to start supplying the iron sheets. Tony is called ‘honourable’ among our top bosses,” he said.
Kapanga, however, said his company does not have any supply arrangement with Mudzi Trust.
“I do not know what you are talking about,” he said in an interview on Friday.
On his part, Ngalande said his political opponents within the ruling PP are set to destroy him by peddling lies about him.
In an interview on Friday, Mudzi Transformation Trust chairperson Maggie Chimpukuso said her organisation has no knowledge of what is going on.
“We were not involved at any point. We do not know of any invoice or agreement. But the President of Malawi is a patron of Mudzi Transformation Trust and it might be possible that the matter was being handled at that level,” said Chimpukuso.
Presidential spokesperson Steven Nhlane said in an e-mail interview yesterday: “I have seen the document you are referring to. But I do not see your interest in this issue unless you have been appointed their debt collector and you are pushing for payment on their behalf.
“I am very sure that if the South African firm indeed supplied materials to Mudzi Transformation Trust, they know who to deal with and if they don’t that should not be your concern.”
President Banda announced the formation of Mudzi Transformation Trust in her State of the Nation Address in May this year. The trust’s objective is to mobilise accessible, responsive and flexible resources to support social and economic projects for the transformation of the lives of Malawians nationwide.