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MDF senior officers testify in Henry Odillo case

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By Faith Kamtambe:

FACES CHARGES—Odillo

Three Malawi Defence Force (MDF) officers on Tuesday appeared before the High Court in Lilongwe where they gave their testimonies in a money laundering case involving former commander general Henry Odillo and three others.

The four are accused of laundering K2.4 billion as part of plunder of the public resources commonly called Cashgate.

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Brigadier General George Desderior Liwambi, Brigadier General Polycarp Boniface Zakaria and Brigadier General Elias Kapalamula appeared before the court.

Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested the then commander and his then deputy Clement Kafuwa over suspected fraudulent payments to Thuso Group, which they claim did not render services to MDF.

Six lawyers questioned the three one at a time.

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In his testimony, Chilangwe told the court that he was made aware of Thuso when he was chief of logistics, saying the company delivered to MDF some uniform materials such as belts, discs for men in uniform, staff shoes for women and handbags in June 2012.

Asked if he participated in the contract involving ammunition with Thuso, Chilangwe said, apart from the uniform transaction, he was not aware of such a deal.

The court also provided Kapalamula with an offer letter he wrote regarding the ammunition contract.

On his part, Kapalamula, who is MDF Chief of Production, admitted to have written the letter following instructions from Odillo.

“The document was written by me. I was given instructions to prepare this letter by the commander, so I did,” he said.

He, however, told the court that the offer letter was appropriate and that he did not see anything irregular as it is protocol for the headquarters to provide such letters during such engagements.

“It was his normal duties to give me those instructions as the army commander,” he said.

Kapalamula also told the court that, at that time, there was an urgent need for ammunitions meant for gun salutes.

But when asked if he had followed up the matter after signing the letter, he said he did not.

State Prosecutor Kamudoni Nyasulu Wednesday paraded two witnesses, including an official from the Office of Director of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA), formerly Office of Director of Public Procurement.

Wednesday, PPDA Chief Monitoring Officer, Jonathan Kantayeni, told the court that although government entities are supposed to engage the office when buying things, there are exceptions.

Kantayeni said he got to know Thuso when ACB visited his office in 2015 to seek guidance on MDF ammunition buying procedures.

“According to the Public Procurement Act, open tendering is default but it provides for exceptions and one of it is the procurement of defence-related items which are sensitive in nature and the public regulation singles out ammunition as one of the items which cannot be procured through open tender but any other has to be approved by the PPDA,” he said.

Kantayeni said there were no records at PPDA showing details of the contract between Thuso and MDF.

Meanwhile, Nyasulu has said although the case is dragging, he is happy with its progress, adding that the court will now start dealing with budget payments and how request for allocations for funds are made.

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