Thomson Mpinganjira tears into parties, judges
Businessman Thomson Mpinganjira Wednesday made some stunning revelations relating to political party financing, alleging in court that he had been making huge donations and lending huge amounts of money to political parties in the country ahead of the May 21 2019 and June 23 2020 presidential elections.
Mpinganjira mentioned in court—where he is answering bribery charges for allegedly attempting to offer five High Court judges who were hearing the election case money— four major political parties in the country, namely Malawi Congress Party (MCP), UTM, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and People’s Party (PP) as the major beneficiaries of his benevolence.
Responding to questions, Mpinganjira said, from February 2019, he gave MCP, on request from its leader Lazarus Chakwera, a total of K94 million in donations; further alleging that, from August 2019, he gave millions of Kwacha to UTM on request from its president Saulos Chilima, including a K350 million loan.
He also mentioned a K40 million donation to PP on request from Joyce Banda, adding that he also lent and donated a total of K945 million to the DPP through a trust called Thomson Frank Mpinganjira (TFM).
But MCP spokesperson Maurice Munthali described Mpinganjira’s allegations as baseless, adding that they, as a party, do not take his claims seriously.
“If anything, maybe the case is too confusing to the extent that he is now trying to mention all of the names under the sun,” Munthali said.
UTM spokesperson Frank Mwenifumbo declined to comment on the matter as the case is ongoing.
PP spokesperson Ackson Kalaile Banda also declined to comment on the matter, saying he was consulting the principal, Joyce Banda, to confirm the reports.
DPP spokesperson Brown Mpinganjira did not pick our calls while Jappie Mhango, who Mpinganjira mentioned in court as the one making requests for the money in his capacity as treasurer general, could not be reached.
Mpinganjira also said MCP and DPP approached him to take leadership positions and he declined because that would affect his businesses.
In court, Mpinganjira, who was visibly uneasy giving the figures, said he was not allowed by the guidelines governing the banking sector to be making public such transactions but was doing so because he was in a court of law.
In cross-examination with ACB lawyer Victor Chiwala, Mpinganjira said he approached Justice Healey Potani, although he was friends with Judge Mike Tembo, because he had heard from Brown Mpinganjira that Justice Lovemore Chikopa was receiving money from DPP and he was giving it to Justice Potani.
On the sums of money he claims to have given to the MCP on request from Chakwera, he conceded that there was no evidence that Chakwera had been making such requests, confirmation of receipts and that there was no evidence that the people he dealt with in the name of Chakwera were indeed sent by Chakwera.
Mpinganjira testified in the court after Judge Dorothy DeGabriele dismissed his application to recuse herself.
But delivering her ruling on the application, DeGabriele said a reasonable person would, looking at the evidence tendered by Mpinganjira, not conclude a likelihood of bias on her part but that someone is engineering delays in the administration of the case.
Mpinganjira said he was going to appeal the matter, which DeGabriele allowed but said the matter before her would continue.
Through both examinations-in-chief and cross-examination, Mpinganjira said Judge Tembo told him that he does not receive money from people whose cases are before him, just as Judge Redson Kapindu said.
He, however, said Tembo told him that Judge Potani gets money from the side he knows will win the case while Judge Dingiswayo Madise goes for the highest bidder but the court was divided on whether Ivy Kamanga receives money or not.
Judges Potani, Madise, Kamanga, Tembo and Kapindu heard the election case and duly nullified the Peter Mutharika presidency before ordering a fresh election which President Chakwera won.