CSOs condemn “political witch-hunting” stunts in criminal cases

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Youth and Society (YAS) have condemned the tendency by civil servants, politicians and businesspeople to claim political witch-hunting when they are arrested in connection to suspected criminal dealings.
Apparently, it has become fashionable for civil servants, politicians and businesspeople to claim political victimisation when law enforcement agencies pounce on them in relation to suspected criminal activities.

For instance, fraud and money laundering suspects arrested at the Office of the Accountant General allege that their arrests are politically-motivated because they are perceived to be holding contrary political affiliations.

Kaiyatsa–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times
When he gave an interview to Voice of America (VOA) last week, former President and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) claimed that the Tonse Alliance government plans to use the albino killings case to stop him from contesting the 2025 presidential election.
Similarly, local business magnate Leston Mulli of Mulli Brothers Limited and two former senior cabinet ministers and serving parliamentarians in the deposed DPP, Ben Phiri and Joseph Mwanamveka, alleged political witch-hunting when the police arrested them in connection to the sale of Malawi Savings Bank (MBS).
The bank was sold in 2015 for K9.6 billion during the Peter Mutharika administration. In the same year, the government repaid about K6 billion in toxic loans on behalf of MSB defaulters, including Mulli Brothers, with the belief that the borrowers will repay the money to the government.
But when law enforcers pounced on them over suspected irregular activities, the trio claimed that President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera is using the security personnel to terrorise his opponents.
But CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa and his YAS counterpart, Charles Kajoloweka, have condemned the practice, stressing that it is an unfortunate stunt.
Speaking in separate interviews, Kaiyatsa and Kajoloweka also condemned errant politicians and unscrupulous businesspeople for mobilizing public sympathy in their desperate effort to block dispensation of justice in criminal cases they are alleged to be involved in.
Kaiyatsa said although it has become a common practice for suspects to try to politicise their arrests, Malawians must always refuse to be hoodwinked.
“It is common practice for crime suspects, particularly if they are also politicians, to claim political witch-hunt whenever they are being investigated for possible corruption or abuse of office.
“As Malawians, we are used to that. But such claims only make sense in the absence of something solid. Unfortunately, in all the cases concerning these people, the evidence from what we have heard from media reports seems to point towards possible wrong-doing,” said Kayiyatsa.
He stressed that with the evidence available, the claim that they are being politically victimised or witch-hunted does not hold water.
He added: “The best they can do is to wait for the judicial process to take its course.”
The human rights activist challenged the suspects to clear their names in courts other than using populist politics to stifle justice.
“The good thing is we have an independent judiciary in this country. If they are not guilty, they will be cleared by the courts. But rushing to claim witch-hunting is premature in my view and  may be seen as an attempt to escape justice,” emphasized Kaiyatsa.
On his part, Kajoloweka described the tendency by politicians to bring politics into their arrests as ridiculous and naïve.
He argued that there is nothing like political witch-hunting where someone is arrested in relation to a criminal activity.
“It is ridiculous to describe these arrests as political witch-hunting. These arrests are being done by lawful and legitimate institutions. Basically, it is naïve to politicize accountability.
“Those that have criminal charges levelled against them should simply face the law. At the end of the day, they have the opportunity to prove their innocence before the courts of law. So, nobody should mobilize public sympathy in the name of politics,” he said.
Kajoloweka urged law enforcement agencies not to listen to the tantrums politically-connected people make after they are arrested over their illegal activities.
Chief Government Spokesperson and Minister of Information and Digitalization, Gospel Kazako said the Chakwera administration does not have any intention to victimize innocent people.
Kazako said those who are being arrested are simply being given a chance to account for their activities when they were in power.
“The arrests are not a political witch-hunt, rather it is a criminal witch-hunt,” he said.

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1 year ago

Genuine CSOs follow issues like this! Kudos Kajoloweka and Kaiyatsa!! Malawi police go go go go and nab them all! Don’t listen to whatever they say! The courts are ready to hear these thieves, forsake!!

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