Former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s reported multibillion kwacha deceased estate may have been overblown, according to the Malawi Law Society (MLS).

In response to The Daily Times questionnaire, MLS Secretary Felisah Kilembe said information gathered by her organisation so far shows that some of the property that has been included in Mutharika’s deceased estate should not have been included as it was already disposed of while he was still alive.

According to MLS, Mutharika had put some of the property under several trusts some of which are public trusts that are for the benefit of Malawians.

“According to the law what this means therefore is that the property was disposed of inter vivos [while he was still alive] and could not therefore have been disposed of again at death, as it became the trusts’ property the minute it was given to the trust.

“As such all the property that is under the trusts does not form part of the deceased estate,” Kilembe explained.

She, however, hinted that Mutharika’s other property can still be probed to establish whether it was legally obtained or not.

“Government has the proper machinery to investigate if they suspect that any illegality was committed,” she said.

According to valuations conducted after his death, the late President’s estate is worth over K61 billion in property and cash lying both within and outside the country.

The revelations, have sparked widespread condemnation against the late President who at the time he assumed the president’s office in 2004 declared his wealth to be about K150 million.

The development has further heightened pressure for incumbent President Joyce Banda to make public information about her wealth.

Just like many commentators, Kilembe described the current declaration of assets law as very weak and not sufficient to prevent persons in positions of power including presidents from amassing more wealth than they should.

“We need to pass an enabling Act to give force to this law. Otherwise without an enabling Act declaration of assets will remain an illusion.

“The declaration of Assets is the teeth that the public will need to acquire information on the wealth. So too the access to information law,” she said. – By Chikondi Juma

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