Dear Lucas Kondowe,
I’m writing this letter with pangs of anger flashing through my chest. Why? Well, because of the way the public institution that you head, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), has been handling the trial involving the former president Bakili Muluzi in which he and his co-accused former personal assistant Lyness Violet Whisky are asked to explain the US$ 13 million in persona accounts which government had thought was donor money, meant for various government development projects.
Granted, the progress in prosecution of the case has delayed due to innumerable factors since it was commenced in 2009.
However, once you took over the mantle as the head, progress has been thwarted by a rather banal/vacuous/insipid/vapid/jejune excuse of a reason: “The lack of objective material evidence”.
On two occasions now within 2016 it has been reported that there are intentions to halt prosecution: The first instance was the fiasco that involved your deputy recusing himself apparently for ‘personal reasons’ and was salvaged only by the denial to dismiss the case by the High Court; the second is the recent media report that you personally confirmed seeking directions on the course of action to be communicated to the High Court on account of there being no “objective material evidence”.
The reasons given above seem reasonable at first glance – but wait a minute! The fiasco of the Deputy Director General recusing himself ignited a few questions: Firstly, when did the Deputy Director General realise that there were ‘personal reasons’ that were in conflict with his duty to prosecute?
Again, granted, some reasons could have arisen after already leading the prosecution team, but did it take the High Court to notice that “the prosecution was in disarray” considering the conduct of the prosecution in total? There was obviously more than meets the eye. However, the prosecution in its wisdom made amends of its shortcomings in conduct and convinced the High Court to allow the prosecution to proceed.
Now you have started talking of the lack of “objective material evidence” as the reason to halt prosecution: That is a significant but sudden change of tune. Firstly, what does the term “objective material evidence” mean? Is the material evidence in your custody now – on the basis of which prosecution was commenced in 2009 and which you are assumed to have evaluated and assessed as sufficient to authorize continuing the prosecution once you became the head – suddenly otherwise defective? Who made the assessment of the ‘objectivity’ or sufficiency of the material evidence?
It must be borne in my mind that the very same evidence in your custody was the basis for three of your predecessors (two very experienced lawyers and one very experienced Judge of the High Court) decision to proceed or continue prosecution of this case: Gustave Kaliwo; Alexius Nampota; and Justice Rezine Nzikamanda. Were all your three predecessors wrong?
Additionally, the Deputy Director General is a very experienced lawyer himself, why would he continue prosecution if it was apparent that there was no “objective material evidence” to sustain it? Surely the answers to the above questions cannot be in the negative. What has changed sir?
Further, you assert that you are seeking direction for a course of action before communicating to the Court. Who provides direction to the Director General? C’amaaaan! I thought the Director General of the ACB is the one to give direction, no? ACB is supposed to operate independently, so I hope you were not referring to the direction given by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) because that office already gave consent to prosecute according to law. This means the DPP was satisfied that the case was prosecutable; there was sufficient “objective material evidence”.
As someone who has works to expose and fight corruption, I have witnessed first-hand the detrimental effects of state looting by unscrupulous politicians and officials. It hinders development in our poor country by depriving the government of revenues desperately needed to combat poverty.
Malawians welcome the strong statements from His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika on measures put to tackle this problem even though I sadly have a VERY STRONG feeling that political considerations have won the day once again and I would not be surprised that this move has the blessing of the first citizen himself. “If this comes from ACB itself I will have plausible deniability since the ACB is perceived to be independent”.
You have (read: had) a very good track record in the private sector plus an impressive CV, my unsolicited advice is don’t let politics be the end of you. You’re flying too close to the sun sir, are your wings made of adamantium?
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