Kasambara’s road to ruin: Malawi ex-justice minister

Former Attorney General and Justice Minister Raphael Kasambara is in Maula Prison contemplating, no doubt, how early promise led to his lonely cell.

Kasambara:  Who is doing mafia tactics now?

Kasambara: Convicted

On 22 August, he is expected to be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison for conspiring to murder his friendturned-nemesis Paul Mphwiyo.

Kasambara graduated in law from the University of Malawi and obtained a further law degree at Notre Dame University in Indiana, United States.

He became a human rights activist back home and chaired the Civil Liberties Committee in 1993 as Malawi moved from the one-party state of Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda to multi-party democracy, with the United Democratic Front (UDF) winning the first free elections.

He lectured at Malawi University’s Faculty of Law at Chancellor College and ran a private law firm, Ralph and Arnolds Associates.

After earning praise as a doughty defender of human rights throughout the 1990s, Kasambara’s course changed when he became the late President Bingu wa Mutharika’s Attorney General in 2004.

His friend, the political fixer Ken Zikhale Ng’oma, one of Bingu’s closest confidants and the initial organiser of Bingu’s Democratic Progressive Party, convinced the President that Kasambara would be an ideal guardian of the presidency, using his office to make life uncomfortable for presidential enemies.

Kasambara zealously intimidated or cajoled judges, prosecutors and journalists – anyone who stood in Bingu’s way. One tactic for disposing of allies that Bingu had outlived was to concoct a criminal charge – treason or corruption, normally – and quietly drop it later. The tactic is still in use.

A flavour of his style is offered by a plot he outlined to astonished drinking buddies at a Lilongwe hotel during Bingu’s first term of office. Senior UDF members were plotting to kill the President using a pistol, a knife and some stones, he said.

On 2 January 2005, four senior politicians were duly arrested for plotting treason, three of the four being found in possession of the previously mentioned items. The phoney plot rowed in one of the most fondly regarded and honest politicians Malawi had ever produced, Harry Thomson, a founder member of the UDF .

The idea that he and the others accused, Roy Commsy, Alfred Mwechumu and Jordan Kanyerere, were plotting to kill Bingu was laughable. Once the charges had done their work of clearing inconvenient politicians out of Bingu’s way, they were dropped.

The press also suffered. In March 2005, after confirming the story with the State House religious advisor, Reverend Malani Mtonga, journalist Mabvuto Banda reported that the President had called for special prayers at State House as he was hearing ‘strange noises’.

The paper reported that the President had ‘run from ghosts’.

When the local BBC correspondent, the late Ralph Tenthani, reported the same, Kasambara had both men arrested for insulting the President and prevented them obtaining compensation despite a court order.

The Lilongwe press corps has had endless experience of warnings by thugs to tread carefully over Kasambara stories and many took the hint. He had a reputation for hanging out with disreputable types on the criminal fringes, of whom his co-accused in the trial over the attack on Mphwiyo, Macdonald Kumwembe and Pika Manondo, were prime examples .

There was no walk of life where Kasambara did not seek to exercise his power. In October 2005, an ex-girlfriend, Rubina Kawonga, brought a paternity suit against him. He used his status as Attorney General to refuse to appear in court, refused a paternity test and tried to prevent the press from reporting the case. Other lawyers accused him of using his office to poach clients.

Ng’oma fell from Bingu’s favour – and Kasambara with him – after Bingu believed they had become too big for their boots. Both, however, rediscovered political favour performing their old political functions for President Joyce Banda when she succeeded Bingu on his death in 2012.

Banda appointed Kasambara Attorney General and Justice Minister in May 2012. Kasambara openly advised people who had legal cases against the government to use his legal firm or forget any hope of compensation or payment of arrears, lawyers said.

Kasambara started several treason cases under Banda which never went to trial and were never meant to. Cases were laid against Peter Mutharika (now President) and other former Ministers under Bingu: Jean Kalirani, Nicholas Dausi, Kondwani Nankhumwa, Patricia Kaliati, Symon Vuwa Kaunda and Bright Msaka.

Other DPP officials were arrested over the murder of Robert Chasowa, a student who was found dead on campus. The cases were never completed but that was often the point. The politicians would have these charges hanging over them for years, never knowing if they were going to come to trial or not.

Long after Bingu died, his former Vice-President, Cassim Chilumpha, had the trumped up charge of attempting to kill Bingu hanging over him and when Kasambara attained high office under Banda, he still refused to drop the charges.

One lawyer who despised Kasambara is Fahad Assani, a former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) under President Bakili Muluzi who replaced Kasambara as AG after his firing over Cashgate. It is widely rumoured that Assani deliberately hired prosecution lawyers for Cashgate who had been persecuted by Kasambara at some time in the past to ensure they went after him with sufficient zeal. There were plenty to choose from.

The current DPP and the lawyer prosecuting Kasambara at his conspiracy to murder trial, Mary Kachale, was being mild when she described the defence’s tactics in the recent trial as ‘mafia like’.

Conducting his own defence, Kasambara schemed and plotted and blustered. He got two judges to recuse themselves and at one point, he threatened in open court to slap Kachale. He made impromptu statements from the dock and had so intimidated his prison guards that he could refuse to wear handcuffs.

After his conviction, he leaped on to the roof of the prison van declaring his innocence and claiming the judge was ‘compromised’. He was also remanded in custody for four months during the trial for abusing the court on social media.

Kasambara has appealed the verdict.


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28 thoughts on “Kasambara’s road to ruin: Malawi ex-justice minister”

  1. Risbon says:

    Am tired of this kasambara crook. kill him please, enough is enough.

  2. nick says:

    There are two parts to this Africa Confidential report which should be read together: Unending Flow of Cashgate and this one on Kasambara. The message is that Malawi’s ruling class is utterly rotten, from State House downwards. The rot can only be removed when international aid money is shut off. Where there is free money there will be crooks to grab it and whatever they may say about zero tolerance to corruption, it will always go to people in power, never to poor people. Kasambara is a symptom of the disease, not the disease itself !!!

  3. sugar free says:

    Kodi mwana uja anankana ndithu? Nkumakhala basi nje nje ……ali ndi mtima wa mwala afele konko konko

  4. Chemwali chimwene says:

    How come he makes friends with criminals? He is a friend of Ali Kaka who killed someone in broad day light, we all know. Ali has disappeared and cannot be traced, do I have to remind you who his lawyer was? I think his lawyer participated or planned that his client avoids jail. Ukaidiwu asevera zifukwa zambiri.

  5. gonapamuhanya says:

    “What goes around comes around” of all the evils he has done de most serious one was rejecting his own offspring. That was bad kukana mwana okhala wake is a sin of highest order it’s possible de kid is languishing in poverty in de far corner of nthalire or champhira doing nothing other than mustering chitumbuka. KASAMBALA IS A BIG CROOK and I pray dat de presiding judge on his appeal case must not come from de north coz ambwenumbwenufe timabelekana without shame!!!!

  6. Tadala Themba says:

    Have Ralph’s cronies seen the article. When are they going to start commenting? Truth will always prevail – that’s why I keep saying am proud of only one judge who has ‘balls’ to stand against evil while the rest hid their tails between their legs and run away from the case. A disgrace and shameful bunch of lawyers and judges.

    Actually bwana Mutharika, Dr Mtambo is your next man at the helm of the judiciary- don’t forget! Only him (and a few more other lawyers) are worth the proffession – ena onse ma judge mbuzi zolandila ma bribe. Just wait for the appeal case and you will see the goats identifying themselves – I need not mention them.

  7. Chigumbuli says:

    Sounds like enemies of Kasambara trying all their best to keep him behind bars; a court of law looks at facts not hearsay or personal vendetta. He has appealed so let us all wait for that. The timing of this article worries me kinda like trying to sway or mess up with his appeal but as I’ve said already, a court of law looks at facts!! Did Judge Mtambo looked at the facts and applied them correctly? We have learned Judges who are going to look at this critically and come out with their own assessment; yeah, something like that. ‘NKhakwamba cha yaka Kasambara kuluta ku Maura people, he will be fine! Kabila kabuki!

    The country needs money to develop and one would think that the Executive would put all the necessary resources to facilitate the Cash-gate cases but no, Kasambara had to be tried first; people could steal from government and that is fine, their cases could wait as long as Kasambara is behind bars as he has been a thorn to this government previously defending the Constitution at all costs. There’s talk everywhere that some Cabinet ministers were involved in swindling the same government they pretend to serve, any action from the top?, no! I support the President when he talks about adding value to Malawian made foodstuffs and making them available for export which could bring forex and fighting corruption; there are names in the report where some cabinet ministers have been mentioned, what is the President take on this? We do not need selective justice all we need is fairness on each and every case. We’ve seen Kasambara’s case being given all the speed it needed to get it done but what about the billions the Taxi payers lost through government Crooks in the name of ministers? We are watching. Chaona nzako chapita mawa chili pa iwe!

    If Kasambara is found to be in the wrong after his appeal then it’s fine he will serve his sentence but fairness please!!

    1. nancy says:

      kodi kasambara ndi abale anu?ayi ndithu muzikawaona ku prison heshould rot in jail I don’t feel sorry for him at all fuck you

      1. The Commentator formerly known as Obanda Joyce Nti says:

        Kkkkkkkkkk. Tamutukwane ameneyu

    2. Exultant says:

      Ndizona kuti chaona zamko chapita mawa chili kwa iwe. Koma ife papunthwa mzako iwe podusa umalambalala mbali. Ndipo umachita kutalikirapo pafupifupi 1000metres(football pitch).
      Waziziwa ndiye sungayelekeze kuchiona chifukwa wadusila kutali. Ngati mumagawana zavuta basi.

  8. The Analyst says:

    Ine I was shocked to see people sympathising with such a person as Kasambara . . .
    . . . But the shock quickly left me alone upon realising that not every one knows everybody in town.
    . . . But you need to be ignorant (of who Kasambara is) or be equally evil to sympathise with Kasambara.
    . . . Coz Kasambara is a deep dead sea; and interacting with him (in whatever way), is a welcome to drowning.
    . . . He is has always been graveyard of hope for those who have money and Kasambara happened to know.
    . . . Coz he could prey on them, ngati kuti ndalama zo ndi zake or nzamasiye.
    Thus, If the only thing you have within you power is a voice, you have a religious duty to speak against evil.
    . . . Otherwise . . .
    “Tolerating evil only leads to more evil. And when good men stand by and do nothing while wickedness reigns, their communities will be consumed.” – Bob Riley
    . . . As a people we cant afford to just hope that people’s wickedness will just dissappear on its own. You see . . .
    “Wickedness is like food: once you get started it is hard to stop; the gut expands to take in more and more.” – John Updike
    . . . Sadly, “There is no dignity in wickedness, whether in riches or rags; and hell is a democracy of devils, where all are equals.” – Herman Melvill.
    . . . This is the case because, “Wickedness is its own punishment.” – Francis Quartes.
    . . . Precisely and ultimately, “As we sin; so do we suffer.” – George R.R. Martin (I love this quote)

  9. Charlie Hebdo says:

    Of all the treason charges mentioned above, APM and the midnight six is the only real one. Others were tramped up charges.

  10. The Commentator formerly known as Obanda Joyce Nti says:

    This idiot lost his way because of that cocaine which he loves to snort

  11. WADADA says:

    Wakhaula fisi ameneyu amati atani, mpaseni 14 years basi

  12. Mwafulirwa says:

    Fair reporting. No addition or subtraction.

  13. Samuel Matchaya says:

    I have always said, Kasambara has always though he is above the law. Like they say, if you live by the sword, you will die by the sword.

  14. Maunisi says:

    Peter Mthalika will face cash gate charges also be on by.

  15. The Patriot says:

    Zikuoneka kuti mwakondwa nazo kuti Raphael zamuvuta…….moto umapita kwatsala tchire!

    1. nancy says:

      mbuzi iwe akafele ku maulako he thinks he is the only educated person in malawi akhaula sanati

    2. The Commentator formerly known as Obanda Joyce Nti says:

      Za ziiii a Patriot

    3. Chimabi says:

      Eya umapita komwe kwasala tchire koma ife timangomwetako tchirero ndikulikwilira kuti motowo usafike.

  16. This guy was involved in cashgate deals. 2 days before the Mphwiyo shooting he had approached another contractor in Lilongwe to cash 800million kwacha for him (Kasambara) and Hauma Daudi (then minister of health) and promised the contractor would encash 1Billion Kwacha and pay 800million to them and keep 200million for his company (contractor). If he makes noise this will be testified against him as he was recorded. I know for sure you will (you devilsh Kasambara) send people to kill this guy (contractor). I have the tape that you were recorded in far away in Chitipa just waiting to present it during your High Court Appeal hearings. So go there at Court of Appeal bragging, you will be stunned with your own voice…..James Hadley Chase….. chasing you Kasambara now

    1. Boko says:

      You are right. The guy had lots of cashgate deals. For another evidence, go to Mzuzu, Area 4, Plot No. 5. You will be horrified at seeing a mansion Ralph Kasambara has built there. All construction materials were imported from RSA. Be prepared to be confronted with Ralph’s employers at this house who would be quick to say the house belongs to another Kasambara, not Ralph. They want to hide the identity of the owner. This is Ralph, the cashgater.

    2. china says:

      You are right scotland yard Ralph kasambara is a devil i.hope he rot in jail.Join the discussion

  17. Achimwene says:

    The big fish is on the hook. No matter what you do, if you are a culprit, it will follow you – All the best at Maula

    1. Alomwe says:

      Did he invite Joyce Banda and Brown Mpinganjira to testfy in the court room as per his early request. May be he will do that in his appeal

      1. International Observer says:

        This is just the first episode of Kasambala’s troubles. After being convicted of the current case, he will now be commuting from Maula to answer more charges whereby he is also a key player in the cashgate deals. I believe this time around he will be a witness against Paul Mphwiyo who has yet to attend proceeds in the dock. Raphael ine ndimamuuza kuti ukatamba-tamba kumayang’ana ku m’mawa kusanakuchere. Lero ndi izi mwatchera ku mwezi, nkhanga zaona. Because of his education, Kasambara will immediately be elevated to M’NYAPALA AT Maula prison. In fact after reading Judge Mtambo’s summary I give Raphael a meagre 5% chance of coming out clean with his appeal process. Mtambo reminded me those years in the past when he specifically did the same when he presided over another case in the military where someone also thought he too was indispensable. End result, the guy kicked the bucket whilst serving a sentence at Zomba maximum prison, and God forbid, I just hope nothing like that will happen to our good learned Raphael Kasambara, QC.

    2. Chemwali chimwene says:

      Reminds me of Cassim Chilumpha and the rest who suffered at Maula on tramped up treasoncharges, we all know who engineered it. He was bragging ku superior hotel, dziko ndi loopsya lilibe mwini pansi pano,mwini wake ndi Mulungu.tisamachite zoyipa kwa anthu osalakwa, Tidzamwa mankhwala omwe timamwetsa ena. Amwenye nawo ali nazo zokhomazomwe amaziona ponamiziridwa milandu kuti apereke ndalama. Ndalamazo zikhala zambiri koma tisowa nazo mtendere.

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