There has been calls at different times by different people to discontinue the K1.7 billion former president Bakili Muluzi corruption case which has now entered the 15th year. The Public Affairs Committee has also added its voice to urge President Lazarus Chakwera to discontinue the case.
PAC has questioned the rationale of spending taxpayers money on a corruption case that has failed to yield the expected results for many decades and called for dialogue to secure a political solution. PAC has further justified its position by referring to the observation made by Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, then as a leader of opposition in 2016 that charges against Muluzi have to be dropped. PAC also cites MP Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda’s remarks in parliament who called upon government to drop charges against Muluzi.
There are number of issues that need to be borne in mind why Muluzi case has taken long. Muluzi himself used delaying tactics to kill the case. After Bingu’s death in 2012 political and vested interests raised their voices to drop the charges against Muluzi. The Anti-Corruption Bureau also shares the blame. There has been lack of seriousness to prosecute the case. For example, outgoing ACB director Reyneck Matembea recused himself and still holds the view that the case needs a political solution which is to discontinue the case. Muluzi lawyers have thrown some spanners as well. They want the case to go to the constitutional court for reasons that are difficult to understand. How can a corruption case be a constitutional issue? All these factors have conspired to delay the case unnecessarily.
The fact that it has taken long to conclude the case does not mean it should be discontinued. Yes, court cases take time. But this should not be enough reason to discontinue the case. It is equally true that court cases consume a lot of public resources. Again, this is not a valid reason to discontinue the case. How many billions have been spent on the presidential case? In issues of justice, cost does not matter
To discontinue Muluzi corruption case is to set a bad precedent and will undermine efforts to fight corruption in the country. It will also defeat the demand for transparency and accountability from leaders and give them carte blanche to loot public resources and get away with it.
PAC should be the last organisation to call on President Chakwera to quash the case. If anything, it should call upon government to ensure that ACB is adequately resourced so that the Muluzi and all other corruption cases are concluded within a few months. It should even call for other cases such as killing of Robert Chasowa and people with albinism to be concluded. PAC as an institution that stands for justice must direct its efforts to ensure justice is done not suppressed. Corruption is evil and has partly contributed to the underdevelopment of Malawi because resources meant for development have found their way into pockets of individuals.
Whoever takes over from Matemba as ACB director should prioritise the Muluzi and other corruption cases so that they are concluded within a few months like the presidential election’s case.
The director should discuss with the judiciary to allocate judges to specifically handle corruption cases. President Chakwera and the Tonse Alliance government should not be drawn into the issue.
Let Muluzi justify how he amassed his K1.7 billion in the 10 years he was in office. Let him prove his innocence in court. Justice must prevail!!!!!!