One Abdul Karima Batatawala is finally cornered and running in circles like a rabid dog trying to scare everyone and tarnish whatever he comes into contact with.
His recent behaviour, under the guidance of his lawyers, shows a man whose transgressions are weighing on him and is trying to hold on to anything that looks like salvation.
His latest antic has been the dragging of President Chakwera’s name into his deals which he transacted with other people privately.
There is a properly drafted Acknowledgement of Debt document between him and Adamson Joseph Mkandawire in which the latter is seeking a K378.4 million loan. The lending and borrowing was an agreement between two adults who expressed interest to enter into a financial deal ready to bear both the pros and setbacks of their contract.
To have him turn to the President as party to this contract is a game whose end is not only risky but futile as well.
Whether the debtor is now employed by the President is neither here nor there because every individual has the freedom to enter into personal and legal financial transactions. If any of the contact agreements is not met, then there is no logic to associate the defaulter with other people who are not part of that particular contract.
Batatawala must also recognize that lending and borrowing money between two adults with proper documentation does not amount to corruption unless there are other issues surrounding the transaction. What he and Mkandawire did was a katapila sort of deal which had a short repayment period.
Despite agreeing to refund within the agreed nine days, Mkandawire is failing to repay the loan to this day. That too is not the problem of anyone besides the lender and debtor.
Batatawala’s desperation has peaked for he now knows that there is no room for his corrupt practices under the Tonse administration. The fight against corruption has hit him harder than he ever imagined.
Just last month Attorney General, Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda, debarred his companies from doing any business with government because of their dubious claims for payments and unfair trading practices for over a decade.
These 16 companies are Lido Electrical and Engineering, African Commercial Agency, Kasco Enterprises, SS Express Agency, HG General Supplies, ZamZam General Dealers, Gratolite General Dealers, Nocatech Engineering Supplies, Jets 2000, Elegant General Dealers, L & G Tools and Engineering, Iris Group SA, Challenge International, Ary Solutions, Milton Connection and Universal Kit Supplies.
According to the Attorney General, for over a decade Batatawala used his companies to swindle billions from government through inflated pricing and corrupt procurement dealings.
His corrupt tendencies have also entangled him in another court case where he is answering two counts; that of conspiracy to defraud by inflating the market price of 500 lockers procured by the Immigration Department and money laundering.
To make matters worse, two days ago the businessman lost another court battle in which he was demanding about K407 million from government for being prevented from developing public land he purchased at Mandala in Blantyre.
The land on plot number BE60 at Mandala was allegedly sold to the businessman by Ministry of Lands in 2013 and he leased it for 99 years.
However, the Department of Museums and Monuments has been blocking him from embarking on any construction works. That forced him to rush to court to seek remedy in form of compensation, a request the High Court has since rejected.
It under this web of misfortunes that Batatawala is trying his best to gain public sympathy and taint the President’s name hoping that by doing so he may blackmail the state and get some sort of relief.
The good thing is that his actions will be tested in the court of law and unfortunately he won’t skirt around the refinery of justice.
He may try to use the media and other sympathetic elements to champion his agenda; Fact remains the noose is fast tightening around his neck.