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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Risbon
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Risbon
1 month 19 days ago

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

nick
Guest
nick
1 month 23 days ago

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 !!!

sugar free
Guest
sugar free
1 month 24 days ago

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

Chemwali chimwene
Guest
Chemwali chimwene
1 month 24 days ago

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.

gonapamuhanya
Guest
gonapamuhanya
1 month 24 days ago

“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!!!!

Tadala Themba
Guest
Tadala Themba
1 month 25 days ago
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… Read more »
Chigumbuli
Guest
1 month 25 days ago
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.… Read more »
Exultant
Guest
1 month 23 days ago

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.

nancy
Guest
nancy
1 month 24 days ago

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

The Commentator formerly known as Obanda Joyce Nti
Guest
The Commentator formerly known as Obanda Joyce Nti
1 month 24 days ago

Kkkkkkkkkk. Tamutukwane ameneyu

The Analyst
Guest
The Analyst
1 month 25 days ago
O………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..O 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… Read more »
Charlie Hebdo
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Charlie Hebdo
1 month 25 days ago

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

The Commentator formerly known as Obanda Joyce Nti
Guest
The Commentator formerly known as Obanda Joyce Nti
1 month 25 days ago

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

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