Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) which supports and sympathizes with the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has given the President 7 days to reverse the amnesty granted to those involved in illegal and corrupt practices of government procurement processes by the Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda.
CDEDI also asks Chakwera to immediately fire the AG and Minister of Lands & Urban Development Kezzie Msukwa in order to allow the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to independently investigate all the culprits involved in the corrupt practices.
CDEDI, through its executive director Sylvester Namiwa, asks Chakwera to publicly reaffirm his commitment in the fight against corruption — “or risk facing the wrath of Malawians”.
He reminded the President that the run up to the 2019 tripartite campaign when he was presidential candidate for Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the President had pledged that once voted in he would not give an amnesty to any state resource plunderer.
Namiwa specifically quotes Chakwera speech in September 2018, in which he had said: “Thieves have been giving amnesty to each other. Enough is enough”.
Thus CDEDI is asking the President to reverse AG’ decision who issued a 60 days amnesty to those implicated in corrupt practices, saying the AG’s decision “is illegal, unacceptable, and very hard to believe that you sanctioned this directive”.
“If indeed it’s you, Your Excellency, who sanctioned this directive, then the rumours that have been making rounds in the various social media platforms, that Your Excellency, personally, and some of your cabinet ministers, including top government officials are implicated in the Sattar corruption scandal, are now validated.”
CDEDI also says that “while appreciating the speed at which the AG has displayed in terminating government contracts, we would like to believe that the law was followed to the letter to avoid instances of legal battles where the vulnerable and marginalized are forced to pay some claimants, using their taxes.
“Should a situation arise where such contracts demand to be paid for unlawful termination stemming from the AG’s action, CDEDI would like to assure you, Sir, that you and your AG shall be held liable and would be required to pay from your own pockets.”
CDEDI, asks Chakwera to remind the AG that his “core business is to advise government and leave politics to the politicians”.
“The AG should at all times desist from being used by politicians. It is for this reason that we at CDEDI, believe the current AG is overstepping his mandate and thus far, he has made illegal and costly decisions, thereby making him politically compromised to effectively discharge his duties in that capacity.
Chakwera is also reminded of his “tough stance against theft, plunder and looting of public funds, which characterized the immediate past ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime”.
“Your Excellency Sir, since you promised Malawians that only thieves give each other amnesty, we at CDEDI, on behalf of the Malawian voters and taxpayers, refuse to accept that you are party to this decision.
“We at CDEDI, would like to remind you sir, that before ascending into the high office of the President, you swore to discharge your duties without fear and favour.
“However, your actions smack fear and selective application of justice, which unfortunately don’t have space in the modern-day democracy.
“This selective application of justice has also been clearly manifested in the fact that it is now two weeks after Hon. Kezzie Msukwa was arrested, but to our surprise, and the surprise of all Malawians, he is still serving in your cabinet as Minster of Lands and Housing.
“However, Malawians vividly recall how Your Excellency swiftly acted by firing Hon. Newton Kambala from cabinet, who until this day, remains a suspect of crime, just like Hon. Msukwa.
“It is for this reason that we believe your conduct depicts lack of integrity required from the occupant of the high office the President.
“In short, your change of tune on the promises you made on your own, without being forced; the goal shifting in the firing of cabinet ministers embroiled in corrupt practices; and very recently the announcement by your AG without legal backing; has dragged the office of the president into total disrepute.”
The AG’s decision sparked a huge furore from the public when the ACB came into the open to declare that as per its legal mandate, the ACB was still proceeding with the investigations against Sattar in cooperation with the National Crime Agency, UK — a stand that showed Chakaka-Nyirenda’s office acted alone in granting the amnesty.
ACB’s Principal Public Relations Officer, Egrita Ndala said the Bureau only came to know of the amnesty through numerous inquiries it received from various journalists and the public.
The Bureau this assured that it will update the public on the decision it will take as regards to the announcement from the AG in line with their investigations on Sattar and others.
After condemnation by the concerned public following the response from the ACB, the AG retracted his statement, saying the declared amnesty will not involve those who the state has overwhelming evidence against or kingpins of corruption, citing individuals such as Sattar, Karim Batatawala and Zameer Karim as among those who will not be considered for amnesty.
The AG said the amnesty will mostly involve individuals for whom investigators may not have evidence against but who can testify against the kingpins of corruption, adding that any senior government officials such as Ministers who appear on the Sattar list will not be beneficiaries of the amnesty.
Centre for Public Accountability also registered its strongest protest and asked for the immediate suspension of the amnesty and demanded the authorities to immediately institute the following steps to ensure that public interests are best served:
1. Publish immediately list of all cases in court and under investigation, their details from amounts to ownership of those companies for the period ending December 31, 2021, that would qualify for your amnesty.
“This will help Malawians understand who qualifies and on what basis and what is expected to be recovered. You cannot ask for a blanket amnesty when you are hiding information from the public.
2. Publish all contracts, including dates and amounts by Messrs. Sattar, Batawatatala, Zameer Karim and SF International, recently barred from doing business with public entities;
3. Institute, with immediate effect a Commission of Inquiry, with a specific deadline of 180 days, to openly investigate the extent of fraud and corruption in public procurement from 2010 to 2021, to find out who is involved, expose the cartels defrauding Malawians and prescribe short term and long-term solutions;
4. Institute, a special Anti-Corruption court within the High Court, to be headed on contract by a Judge from outside Malawi, who will expedite the hearings, with specified timelines. The Director of Public Prosecutions should also have a specialist team, hire extra lawyers dedicated to concluding cases which are stagnant.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :