Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda has asked Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate alleged attempts to bribe five judges presiding over presidential elections petition case, the graft-busting body has confirmed.
However, Nyasa Times understands that the bureau was alerted in November 2019 about the attempts to bribe the judges.
The Constitutional Court has until February to determine the case in which Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and UTM Party’s Saulos Chilima are disputing the President Peter Mutharika re-election in May 2019 polls.
ACB director Reyneck Matemba confirmed that they are following leads to the matter.
“I can confirm that the Anti-Corruption Bureau received a written complaint from the Chief Justice on a matter related to the presidential elections case that is pending judgement in the Constitutional Court,” said Matemba.
He said the ACB cannot discloses any further details of the complaint but said the bureau is pursuing it “as well as other written complaints that we also received from different sources and interested stakeholders.”
It is yet to be established the real identity of the people involved in the bribe and the judges who were approached.
Malawians have taken up in various social media platforms expressing worry over the matter and wondering if the ACB act on the reports.
In an interview with Nyasa Times, social and governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali said he expects the five judges to administer justice -whichever way it goes.
“But my only worry in view of the revelation of attempts to bribe judges is that it has the potential to undermine the public acceptance or respect of the Court verdict-regardless of how impartial it is.
“ In other words, immediately the identity of the person (or party) who did this is revealed the court of public opinion will come up with its verdict, and such a verdict of public opinion may be difficult to reverse in as far as acceptance or respect of the Court decision is concerned particularly when the fice judges (Con Court verdict) is contrary to that of the public,” said Munthali.
He continued: “ In short, looking at it from a public interest and promotion of rule of law perspective, whosoever attempted to do this has done more harm to this country.”
Munthali said to avoid speculation, it would however be important that the ACB reveals the identity of those who are alleged to have attempted to bribe the judges
Last week, the opposition stopped the European Union Election Observer Mission from presenting its final report. The opposition claimed the report would compromise the case.
In a statement, Chief Election Observer for the EU to Malawi Miroslav Poche said they were disappointed that they were not able to present their final report on the elections.
He said the report is a technical document and it does not interfere with the current political situation in Malawi in light of the presidential election case.
The mission said it wiould present the report in February by which time judgement is expected to be out.
In a preliminary report released just after the election, the EU mission described the election as “transparent, well-managed and competitive.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :