Graft-busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) says it will evaluate the alleged corruption case against former president Bakili Muluzi which now enters its 15th year, to see whether it should be discontinued or not, within 90 days.
The Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs has been putting pressure on ACB to discontinue the case, saying it is taking long to conclude as tax-payers continue to lose resources on the matter.
Muluzi has been answering the corruption case in relation to money amounting to K1.7 Billion that was paid into his personal account when he was State President – to support his party’s 2004 elections . The State claimed money from Taiwan, Libya and Morocco paid directly to Muluzi was diverting donor funds .
However, the case has been dragging as at one time one of the prosecutors from ACB withdrew from the case.
Yusuf Nthenda, Chairperson for Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs – a lawyer by profession – has said the committee met with officials from ACB over the week.
Nthenda said the bureau has committed to review the case in three months and give a way forward.
“Since 2009 , resources gave been allocated to the case, We cannot really give the direction on how the court should proceed with the case, but we would want the matter to reach its logical conclusion,” said Nthenda the MP who is affiliated to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Former ACB director general Reyneck Matemba, who is now serving as Solicitor General, believes the case needs a political solution “ backed by the law’ because it is not prosecutable.
Matemba, who once prosecuted Muluzi before he recused himself in the case when he was ACB)deputy director general, holds the strong personal view that no one would come at the bureau and successfully prosecute Muluzi case that the former president claimed was opened out of political vendetta.
Actually, all presidents that came after Muluzi, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, Joyce Banda and Peter Mutharika, have seen the now 80-year-old being involved in endless court battles in the matter.
Matemba explained that the reason behind his insistence that the case requires a political solution backed by the law is that ACB does not discontinue cases without legal reasons, for example lack of evidence, because that leaves room for lawsuits accused persons usually bring based on either malicious prosecution, false imprisonment or loss of business.
A legal expert has however warned against discontinuance of Muluzi case, saying the government could pay huge amount of money in compensation.
Justin Dzonzi said that taxpayers money risks going down the drain with “careless” discontinuation of case involving Muluzi, saying the former president can sue government for defamation.
Professor of law at Chancellor, College Garton Kamchedzera, said there are laid down legal procedures when authorities decide to withdraw an indictment.
ACB directors that have overseen Muluzi’s case
- 2004 to 2006: Gustav Kaliwo, resigned shortly after he arrested Muluzi
- 2006 to 2007: The late Tumalisye Ndovi, rejected by Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of Parliament
- 2007 to 2012: Alex Nampota, re-engaged after he previously deputised the first ever ACB boss, Gilton Chiwaula in late 1990s
- 2012 to 2014: Justice Rezine Mzikamanda, returned to Judiciary, Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal
- 2014 to 2017: Lucas Kondowe, left after his three-year long contract expired
- 2017 to date: ACB acting boss and later director general Reyneck Matemba