The ruling by High Court judge Jack N’riva to dismiss the matter in which Youth And Society (YAS) dragged Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Pioneer Investments to court over the K145 million food rations deal is not a victory to DPP as bigger problem for government remains “a negative perception” in terms of fighting corruption, it has been pointed out by commentators.
Justice N’riva dismissed the matter on the basis that YAS, a Mzuzu-based civil society organisation (CSO) is not an interested party in the case because it has no locus standi [sufficient interest].
YAS obtained an order immediately from Supreme Court of Appeal to put aside the implementation of the High Court ruling.
The case follows an investigative report by Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) which claimed that Pioneer overcharged Police by K466 million on the basis of 20 percent exchange rate losses that were never incurred nor provided for in the contract.
Shortly after receiving the contract payment, Pioneer paid K145 million from its National Bank account into a DPP account held at Standard Bank which President Peter Mutharika is a sole signatory.
Commenting on the development, governance expert and commentator Makhumbo Munthali said the lower court’s ruling does not in any way clear Mutharika in the K145 million saga.
“It is only questioning YAS as having no sufficient interest in the case- a verdict which is debatable if precedence and public interest are to be brought into equation,” Munthali told Nyasa Times.
He said YAS is justified to consider appealing the High Court determination.
“However, even if the court were to clear Mutharika of any wrong doing in the saga, this would not manage to change public perception on Mutharika as being the beneficiary of K145 million by virtue of being a sole signatory.
“In fact, Mutharika -just as was the case with [George] Chaponda- was already convicted in the court of public opinion, and it would be difficult for Mutharika and DPP to change public perception on the matter. For no doubt- just as cashgate costed Joyce Banda in 2014 elections- the K145 million may be an electoral issue with potential to weaken Mutharika’s chances in 2019 election,” Munthali told Nyasa Times.
The governance expert argued that every Malawian of goodwill has “sufficient interest” to protect tax payers money from “executive thieves”.
YAS executive director has also described the court determination as “retrogressive and a careless incentive to impunity.”
Main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesman Reverend Maurice Munthali said the outcome makes the fight against corruption in the country to be a fallacy.
“We still feel justice has not prevailed in one way or the other and the fight against corruption will never succeed if those people stealing from poor Malawians are left scot free,” said Munthali.
And Malawi’s leading daily newspaper, The Nation, said in its editorial comment on Tuesday that the court decision is not a victory for DPP.
“We see the ruling as only a technicality. The gibber problem for government remains a negative perception in terms of fighting corruption. In this regard, it would be in the best interest of the government to see the matter to its logical conclusion,” reads the comment in part.
It pointed out that if not taken to its logical conclusion, the general perception that the money has the smell of a kickback will remain.
“The larger outcome of the case, therefore, is that the credibility of government will continue to suffer.”
The paper said in dismissing the case, Judge N’riva has not helped government to be accountable to the taxpayers.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :