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Former MDF finance director testifies against Odillo

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FORMER director of finance in the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Harry Chawinga has distanced himself from an over K920 million 88mm blank cartilages’ deal that the MDF and the South African based Thuso Group Limited signed in May 2013.

MDF and Thuso Group are said to have signed a contract for the supply of 5000 88mm cartilages to the MDF but the cartilages were not delivered.

Chawinga is a principal state witness in a Cashgaterelated case that former Army General Henry Odillo, his then deputy Clement Kafuwa, former MDF accountant Nelson Kauwa Banda, former Accountant General David Kandoje and one Ganizani Kuchombo are answering.

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Odillo, Kafuwa, Banda, Kandoje and Kuchombo are suspected to have conspired between November 28 2011 and August 20 2013 to use public office for the advantage of Banda and Kuchombo trading as Thuso Group.

The five are also being accused of possessing K929.8 million public money, between March and September, 2013, which represented wholly or partly property that had been obtained unlawfully.

On Friday, Chawinga recognised in court a May 28 2013 letter for the award of contract from MDF to Thuso Group but said he was not aware of any internal procurement meeting that discussed the award of such a contract.

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Colonel Chiona, who was MDF Chief of Logistics at that time, is said to have authored the letter for the award of the contract. Kafuwa is suspected to have signed the agreement between MDF and Thuso Group on behalf of MDF while Alexander Banda presented Thuso Group at a meeting which Chiona attended.

“My position mandated me to sit in any procurement committee meeting within MDF but I was not aware of any meeting of the procurement committee for the award of this contract,” Chawinga said.

He also said to his knowledge, he was not aware of any bids for the supply of the ammunitions in question. Lack of proper arrangements of documents in court, defence and state files, however, forced the court to adjourn before the planned finish of examination.

When state lead prosecutor Kamudoni Nyasulu asked for 10 minutes to properly arrange the documents, the lead defence lawyer Titus Mvalo said some lawyers had other family commitments and others were flying outside the country Friday afternoon forcing Judge Redson Kapindu to reluctantly adjourn the case.

Kapindu emphasised on the need by the lawyers to properly manage time, especially in this case of many witnesses and testimonies.

Odillo, Kafuwa and Kandoje are further being accused of having K929.8 million stolen under their watch “as a result of their gross negligence”.

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