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Helen Buluma testifies against Newton Kambala

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Martha Chizuma

National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) Deputy Chief Executive Officer Helen Buluma Wednesday started testifying against former Energy minister Newton Kambala, Alliance for Democracy president Enoch Chihana and former chief Presidential Adviser on Strategy Chris Chaima Banda.

In her testimony, Buluma said Kambala told her that some people who were interested in the fuel supply business would link up with her and that she needed to think about how to help them.

She told the court that she then got a call from Chihana, who insisted on meeting her.

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Buluma said after declining the invitation on several occasions, she, in the company of Nocma Director of Operations Micklas Reuben, met with Chihana at Ufulu Gardens in Lilongwe.

She said, during the meeting, Chihana introduced two Asians who, he said, were from Finergy Oil Company of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and left them to discuss business.

Buluma further told the court that the two officials, a young man and an elderly person, made inquiries about fuel importation processes in Malawi and that she and Reuben kept advising the two officials to put whatever they wanted to find out in writing, as required by law.

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She added that the meeting took about 15 minutes and that, after the meeting, Chihana phoned her to learn about how the meeting went.

According to Buluma, Chihana then introduced her to Chaima Banda, who he described as a very influential person.

Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa has since adjourned the case to this morning, when Buluma will continue testifying in the case.

Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma said the State was expected to parade a maximum of seven witnesses in the matter.

Before Buluma, the State paraded Charles Mphinga, an official from the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority.

ACB arrested Kambala, Chihana and Chaima Banda in August last year for allegedly attempting to influence Buluma to award contracts to Orxy, Finergy and Trafigura.

The three were granted bail by the Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Court two days later.

On the day they were granted court bail, President Lazarus Chakwera fired Kambala and Chaima Banda as Energy minister and chief Adviser on Strategy, respectively.

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