Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) yesterday raided the residence of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) national youth director Louis Ngalande to seize his three vehicles for allegedly evading import duty.
However, officers from the revenue collecting body failed to execute their mission after they were denied access to the vehicles’ keys by people they found at his residence in Chigumula, Blantyre.
In an interview, Ngalande confirmed the development claiming the vehicles being targeted are a Totoya Fortuner and a five-tonner he bought from South Africa and a Mercedes Benz imported from Japan.
He said: “I am not at my house now but I have been told they demanded keys for the three vehicles. Actually, this is the second time they have invaded my home trying to impound the vehicles.
“They are claiming that I eluded import duty payment but what surprises me is they have never told me how much I owe them and they are not producing any documentation to substantiate their allegations.”
Ngalande, who is a DPP councillor for Misesa Ward in Blantyre City South East, said he believed the move was politically motivated because of his stand in supporting Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s presidency during next year’s elections.
He said: “This is a mere political onslaught on me the way they are doing on all those with dissenting views. Actually, my family members, particularly my children, are now living in fear and are traumatised because of the guns the police are bringing at the house.”
But MRA spokesperson Steve Kapoloma quashed Ngalande’s claims saying they went to his residence to verify whether import duty was paid on one of the vehicles after they were tipped off by a well-wisher.
He said they went to Ngalande’s residence just to check on the Toyota Fortuner and not the other two vehicles and denied that MRA officers had been to the house before.
Said Kapoloma: “We went there just to verify if indeed his Toyota Fortuner vehicle was not cleared. We were only following up on a tip we received and that is a normal procedure that we always carry out.”
But human rights activist Timothy Mtambo said it was high time leaders stopped using public institutions to persecute people who are against the administration.
He observed there was a growing pattern where institutions such as MRA, police and Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) are being used as dogs to bite those who have fallen out of grace with government.
“Government should stop forthwith abusing public institutions to harass those with dissenting or critical views. That is unfair, unprofessional and unjust. Are they telling us all those that are in the DPP or government are clean? Why don’t we hear MRA or police have impounded their vehicles or arrested them? We want to see justice being done to every citizen of the country,” he said.
As a DPP director of youth, Ngalande has been a member of the party’s politburo until few months ago when he publicly declared his support for Chilima to stand as a presidential candidate.