By Chimwemwe Lusungu
President Peter Mutharika was tricked last week into postponing the burning of 4 tonnes of seized ivory by one of his most trusted aides, State House sources have told Banthu Times.
Special Advisor to the President Ben Phiri is alleged to have convinced President Mutharika not to burn the ivory but preside over the ceremony as part of this year’s commemoration of World Life Day.
Phiri is one of Mutharika’s most loyal and powerful aides in the current State House administration.
“Phiri and a few others at State House have already made arrangements to sale the ivory to a Chinese businessman identified as Mr Yang. They deal is already done and they ivory will never be burned,” said a source at State House.
Government planned to burn the 4 tonnes of seized ivory as part of this year’s commemoration of the World Wildlife Day as indicated in an earlier press release that went in the media informing the general public about this event.
“But the burning of the ivory has been postponed because Government has been advised that another 2.6 tonnes of ivory is still in the system as exhibits awaiting conclusion of cases which are pending in the courts,” read the statement that was released later, less than 24 hours before the event.
State house sources said that all these changes were done last minute after Phiri convinced the President not to burn the Ivory.
“Our worry now is what will happen to the ivory in the meantime because we also feel let down by State House and their last minute changes,” said a wildlife activist at the ceremony. He asked for anonymity.
Phiri could not be reached for comment during the Easter holidays.