Civil Society demand “Corruption riddled” Lands Minister Msukwa resignation

President Lazarus Chakwera inability to sack or suspend Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Kezzie Msukwa has forced a civil society organisation, Youth and Society (YAS) demand the dis-honourable minister to resign following his arrest by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

The failure to act on Msukwa is eroding public trust and support in the presidency as people feel “nothing for us but something for them”, a contradiction to Chakwera’s promises during the general elections campaign.

YAS, a governance and human rights watchdog, has given Msukwa 7 days from January 17 to resign — failing which the NGO “will take necessary action within the law”.

“We believe that your resignation is the first significant step in ensuring justice and accountability in this corruption case, and in curing a climate of impunity in your Ministry,” says the letter issued by YAS Executive Director, Charles Kajoloweka.

YAS contends that its has taken this course of action as Msukwa’s arrest — in connection with investigations on Sattar and state capture of epic proportions — have attracted huge public interest.

Msukwa was arrested after it was discovered that he allegedly allowed sale of land on Lilongwe in favour of Sattar and that the British National offered him bribes — allegations which Msukwa denies.

Msukwa maintains that the sale of the said plot number 46/2057 in Area 46 in Lilongwe was sold to Sattar by the Ministry before he became its minister.

Msukwa had argued this at Zomba High Court where he filed and made an ex-parte application for judicial review, saying the ACB failed to correctly appreciate and discharge its constitutional, statutory and administrative law duties.

However, YAS says since Msukwa’s corruption allegations is pending in court — and “for avoidance of doubt” — the investigations by the Bureau established that he corruptly used his public office as Minister contrary to section 25 (1) as read together with section 34 of the Corrupt Practices Act.

“As a governance and human rights watchdog, we have closely followed the above developments, including your arrest and the associated court battles.

“We at YAS, and no doubt all right-minded Malawians, are deeply concerned and disturbed that despite your arrest over these seriously scandalous criminal allegations, you continue in office as Minister as if nothing has happened and nothing matters at all.

“It is rather a pity that we have to tell you what should be obvious to anyone with a figment of integrity. The obvious point is that it has become morally untenable for you to continue in that Office because of your arrest based on opprobrious rent-seeking behaviour of corruptly using your public office as is alleged.”

YAS quotes Section 12(1)(b) and (c) of the Malawi Constitution, which highlights trust as a pertinent constitutional principle, highlighting that authority to exercise power of State is conditional upon the sustained trust of the people of Malawi and that trust can only be maintained through open, accountable and transparent Government and informed democratic choice.

“It is our firm view that your arrest and the alleged acts have soiled the trust reposed in you, as such, it is only proper that you resign.

“To dispel doubt and pre-empt distraction by those who may mislead you, a resignation on your part will not be a mark of admitting culpability, as yet. Neither will it be an admission of legal liability nor an act of self-deprecation by way of self-punishment.

“If you are wrong or legally liable, you do not get to decide your punishment. Your legal liability, including criminal liability, will be established through the pending trial in respect of which you enjoy your right to be presumed innocent.”

YAS further says “quite apart from accepting culpability” a resignation on Msukwa’s part “is an ethical act of reinforcing personal integrity and the integrity of the office from which you must resign”.

“It buttresses responsibility and supports accountability. The integrity and trust reposed in the public office of Minister is typically brought into opprobrium when it is accepted, as appears to be the case with you, that it can be held by someone facing serious charges which strike at the very route of integrity with the possibility of a conviction.

“It is no less a pity that even the appointing authority is complicit in your scandal by procrastinating on a rather obvious matter, on the fair benefit of doubt that the appointing authority still values  integrity.

“We believe that your resignation is the first significant step in ensuring justice and accountability in this corruption case, and in curing a climate of impunity in your Ministry.”

YAS demands follow similar sentiments expressed by a quasi-religious organisation, PAC who issued a scanting statement on the Tonse government selective justice and nepotism.

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