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Peter Mutharika speaks on cement scandal

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Former president Peter Mutharika says he has learnt with shock that Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) approved the clearance of duty free cement, using his Taxpayer Identification Number (TPIN).

Personal secretary to the former president, Linda Salanjira, has confirmed this with Malawi News, following a statement issued by the former president.

According to Salanjira, Mutharika has resolved to inform the general public of his position following the allegations pertaining to the duty free clearance of the cement.

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“The former president neither bought nor instructed anyone to buy or import the cement in question. Accordingly, the former president did not, as he could not, request Malawi Revenue Authority to invoke any of his privileges to clear the alleged consignment of cement duty-free,” reads part of the statement.

The statement from Mutharika further said he never at any point undertook any construction projects requiring such substantial volumes of cement.

Salanjira said in any event, the former president does not operate any business to sell cement on retail or wholesale.

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According to Salanjira, for the avoidance of doubt, Mutharika did not have any dealings with the alleged cement traders, either personally or through a third party.

So far, Mutharika’s security aide Norman Chisale and owner of Prestige Import and Export owner, Mahmed Shafee Ahmed Chunara have been charged in connection with the alleged importation of 1.2 million bags of cement worth over K5 billion from Zambia and Zimbabwe, using Mutharika’s duty free status and TPIN.

The 60,000 tonnes of cement, which Chisale is accused of importing through Chunara’s Prestige Import and Export, is equivalent to 2,000 thirty-tonner articulated trucks carrying a maximum of 600 cement bags each.

The consignment was imported into the country in three batches, each weighing 20,000 tonnes.

Each consignment was valued at $2.240 million, bringing the total cost of the three consignments to $6.720 million (about K5.040 billion).

The first clearance was made on November 28, 2018 while the second clearance was given on July 1, 2019. The third clearance was issued on December 16, 2019.

All the clearances were signed for by Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Deputy Commissioner, Technical – Customs and Excise, Abigail Kawamba.

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