Lazarus Chakwera, Arthur Peter Mutharika and Sidik Mia chatted and smiled as friends when they attended the wedding of the son of Simbi Phiri, a prominent businessman from Mchinji based in South Africa. The high glitsz event include mucial performances from J.B Mpiana and Wenga Musica of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Simbi Ashan Phiri, the owner of Khato Civils a civil engineering firm involved in the development of large scale infrastructure targeting both the Private and Public sectors based in South Africa, recently struck a deal with the Malawian government by siging an MoU with the Malawian Government on the Lake Malawi Water Supply Project from Senga Bay to Lilongwe on behalf of the Lilongwe Water Board, and the construction of a ‘controversial’ modern bus terminal along the Likuni Road in Lilongwe which will house a shopping mall and a five star hotel. The Malawi Government seems to have awarded the bus terminal contract to Khato Civils after it had already agreed with a local consortium known as Moni International Coach Terminus and Trade Centre for the same deal.
All three projects including the building of tollgates to boost revenues for the Roads Authority in the Country. Recently, Simbi Phiri, has been hailed by the Malawi Governemt for his efforts to develop his home district of Mchinji. Phiri’s Khato Civils dontated Tembwe Health Center to the Malawi government which was built at a total cost of K200 million.
Earlier in April this year, South African President Jacob Zuma ordered the Special Investigating Unit to probe how water and sanitation contracts worth hundreds of millions of rands were awarded toLTE Consulting which then hired Simbi Phiri’s Khato Civils without a tender process by Lepelle Northern Water.
LTE Consulting is reported to have hired Simbi’s Khato Civils and South Zambezi to deliver a R502 million water and sanitation project in the water-scarce Mopani District Municipality in Limpopo, South Africa.
According to reports in South African Newspapers, Khato Civils is reported to have pocketed R850 million from the LTE deal as well as contracts for the construction of the Nwamitwa Dam outside Tzaneen and the Nandoni-Mhinga water supply project.
Khato Civils has also been at the center of money laundering claims in Botswana after its links to Botswana’s former Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Dikgakgamatso Seretse came under investigation by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).
According to the Sunday Standard from Botswana, court records reveal that on June 26, 2015, Phiri entered Botswana and declared $300 000 at the border and that next day he deposited into his personal account an amount of $5 000. On July 8 he deposited an amount of $800 000 and R120 000 into his personal Rand account meaning that Phiri had under declared at the border an offence to sections 14 and 95 of Botswana’s Customs and Excise Duty Act.
The case was subsequently dismissed in the courts on account of Simbi Phiri’s strong financial muscle.