MPs abuse privilege


Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) instead of taking action on suspected cases of corruption involving Members of Parliament (MPs) has written Speaker of the National Assembly, Richard Msowoya, to sensitise the lawmakers.

According to the information available, MPs have been abusing their privilege of importing a specified number of vehicles duty free by importing vehicles for third parties.

The syndicate, which is said to have dated from as early as 1999, is believed to have seen billions of potential revenue going down the drain due to loopholes in the system.


In a copy of a letter from MRA’s Commissioner General Tom Gray Malata to speaker Msowoya dated April 20 2016 which we have seen, MRA wants the speaker to sensitise the legislators against the abuse.

Reads the letter in part: “I wish to report that the Malawi Revenue Authority has observed with concern the notable abuse of duty free privileges on motor vehicles by some Honourable Members of Parliament. I wish to therefore take this opportunity to advise that the duty free privilege accorded on motor vehicles is meant for Members of Parliament and not third parties.”

The MPs are entitled to purchase two new vehicles duty free every 5-year-term.


MRA spokesperson, Steve Kapoloma, was not immediately available for the tax collecting body’s side of the story but Head of Marketing and Communications, Wilma Chalulu, on Monday asked for a questionnaire, and when she was reminded of the response on Tuesday she asked for more time.

But Parliament spokesperson Leonard Mengezi has pushed the blame to the tax collecting body arguing that the clearing of vehicles purchased by legislators is done by MRA itself.

According to Mengezi, his office only helps in processing documentation between the MPs and MRA adding that Parliament has no control on such a deal.

“If MRA has measures to check such abuses then let them do that. How can Parliament prove that MP X or Z is not buying the vehicle for himself or herself? If indeed this is happening it’s illegal but this is beyond the control of the National Assembly,” said Mengezi.

Some MPs speaking on condition of anonymity admitted that some of them connive with wealthy people in the country to import expensive vehicles on their behalf and get huge commissions.

“It’s all survival, for instance an MP can import a vehicle worth K16 million for a rich businessman and get a commission of K5 million cash. Who can resist that, it’s a straight forward deal only that the MP will have to do all the paperwork for the third party and the vehicle will be registered in the name of the MP. Some of these expensive vehicles that you see in town were imported by MPs on behalf of other people,” said one MP.

Another MP claimed that the practice has been around since the 90’s and that new Members of Parliament have found the ‘gold mine’ already in place.

Said the MP: “As MPs, we have all the monies but we also don’t have enough, this term we got K24 million as car loan and these Isuzu Double Cabin that you see MPs driving cost not less than K15 million. We also have to survive just like any Malawian out there. Some legislators go as far as giving away their duty free status on all their entitlement and resort to buy cheap cars on the local market”.

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