From ACB statements: How Malawi judges rejected K100m to deliver electoral justice

Using statements, the judges provided to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), investigative journalist Golden Matonga unveils how the judges claim they rejected bags stashed with millions in bribe money to deliver justice.

Well protected: Judges who overturned last year’s ‘Tipp-Ex election’ in Malawi,
Mpinganjira was arrested over judges bribery attempts claim

The five judges of the constitutional court— Healy Potani, Redson Kapindu, Ivy Kamanga, Dingiswayo Madise and Mike Tembo—were enjoying a good meal at Ufulu Gardens Hotel in Lilongwe when the call they all had dreaded came through.

They glanced at each other and silently nodded in agreement that the recipient of the call—Justice Potani—the judge president and head of the panel of judges hearing the presidential elections case—should take it .

The judges, out of the sensitivity of the high-profile case, the first in Malawi’s history and its attached security risks had closed themselves from the outside world.

And Justice Potani had warned his colleagues, according to official statement he gave to the corruption busting body, that he was suspicious already of the impending call.

He had been warned, that the businessman was desperately looking for him. Over lunch, he had relayed the message to the fellow panelist judges. They had their suspicions but due to the high stature and respect the caller commanded in the business sector, they reluctantly agreed it would be best if they heard him out.

In his statement, Justice Potani speaks of how Mpinganjira “desperately hunted for him for a meeting” which, he said, he dodged

With blessings of the other member judges, however, Justice Potani says he entertained Mpinganjira’s call once for five minutes on October 9, 2019, when he (Potani) was told that the business mogul had “a parcel” for him.

“He told me he sent a parcel to me for a project through another judge [from the Supreme Court]. He (Mpinganjira) said he was advised by some of the people he was working with to approach me as chairperson [of the five-judge panel],” Potani told ACB in the statement.

And he continued: “I was puzzled, disturbed and confused. I wanted to get more information. I told him (Mpinganjira) that I was in Lilongwe and he said he would fly from Blantyre the next day to meet me to deliver the parcel. But I quickly told him not to.”

Justice Potani then briefed the other four judges on the panel about his conversation with the business mogul that lasted about five minutes and “Due to the sensitivity of the matter, the panel resolved to report the matter to the Chief Justice.”

All this time, Potani recorded the time of the conversation, some of which was via WhatsApp calls and the phone numbers used.

According to the information ACB received, Mpinganjira, acting on behalf of the ruling Democratic People’s Party (DPP)—had told the judge that the ruling party had disbursed cash amounting to K100 million by October 2019 for the five judges to share.

Mpinganjira mentioned a top ranked DPP official (name withheld) as the conduit to deliver the stash of money to the five judges and the said party official had told his DPP colleagues that he was handing over the money to the judges through Supreme Court Justice, Lovemore Chikopa (whom the ACB has since cleared of any wrongdoing.)

Justice Potani and the rest of the judges denies receiving any of the money.

The story is collaborated by a statement by another member of the panel of judges, Justice Tembo, who in a separate statement, told the ACB that, Mpinganjira had sent him a WhatsApp text asking him to provide contact details for Justice Potani.

Justice Tembo’s statement suggests that he agonized over the request to disclose Justice Potani’s phone number but eventually gave in and shared the contacts as he, and in trust, had attended the same church with Mpinganjira in Blantyre since 2010.

He then briefed his colleagues about the conversation and Justice Potani chipped in adding that Mpinganjira, had actually also called him on October 9, 2019 claiming that he was working on a “project” with some judges and lawyers.

Justice Tembo said Mpinganjira then had told him that lawyers for the respondents in the case (incumbent President Peter Mutharika and Malawi Electoral Commission) were also drawing additional cash purportedly to share with the judges.

It was precisely because of the “suspicious” conduct of the lawyers, according to Justice Tembo’s statement, that Mpinganjira indicated he was approaching the judges.

One of lead lawyers for the respondents, according to Justice Tembo’s recollection of Mpinganjira’s words, had drawn millions of kwacha claiming he was going to pay his colleagues in the legal team, but the other lawyers confided that they did not receive anything from him.

Said Justice Tembo: “He [Mpinganjira] told me that the [‘parcels’] ‘project’ was known in the [ruling] DPP leadership, including the principal [President Mutharika].”

Justice Tembo said he asked Mpinganjira why DPP, with a competent team of lawyers, was engaging in attempts to bribe the judges and the business mogul responded: “DPP never rigged the election. DPP was involved in giving cash because there was suspicion that the petitioners were [similarly] mobilizing and being funded by the Indian community to do the same.”

Justice Tembo said in their conversation, that Mpinganjira and he were amazed at how the people allegedly involved were operating like the “mafia” and when Justice Tembo rejected the offer, Mpinganjira changed his statement, suggesting that he was not offering the judges a bribe but a ‘loan from his bank to help them like any other members of the society’.

Mpinganjira, also had another grip of moral scruple, according to Justice Tembo. He regretted to have spoken to Justice Tembo at all, as many had warned Mpinganjira, according to Tembo’s statement that he, [Justice Tembo] was a difficult man, as he was a man of faith.

Months later, Mpinganjira, one of the richest Malawians was to be arrested on the bribery charges and Justices Potani, Tembo and the other three judges, were to arrive at the High Court in Lilongwe, wearing bullet vests and under military escort and delivered the most unprecedented ruling in modern Malawi. The ruling nullified the May 21, 2019 presidential elections and ordered fresh elections.

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Zio ine
Guest
Zio ine

Nosense. Not adding up

Galu #1
Guest
Galu #1

To everyone that has commented MCP and UTM bribed judges please show us your evidence. PLEASE ! Why are you keeping it a secret, writing down comments will not help you. Please leak the whats app chats, call logs etc.

1. DPP rigged elections…. you don’t believe me go to the courts.
2. A very successful business man was used as a puppet to bribe judges… you don’t believe me go to the ACB.

This not my opinion its called hard facts ! Very hard to swallow as a cadet!

Bauleni
Guest
Bauleni

What facts? The courts said there was no rigging and the irregularities did not change the result of the election. Osamva mothawa. Simbi bribes the judges

Gobede
Guest
Gobede

Give us evidence.Zoti Mpinganjira amafuna kupanga bribe majudge umboni tikuuona nanga wa Simbi ulikut iwe Cadet wa DPP?

Mwini muzi.
Guest

Umboni was bribe umakhala was awiri. Wina ali Kuti?

Gobede
Guest
Gobede

Nanga osangopita ku ACB ndi umboni wakoyo bwanji.Pita panja osamangouwa ngati gulu osaluma

Zeze
Guest
Zeze

The TONSE alliance campaign is in disarray. Golden Matonga ukuona bwanji? Chilima has had pathetic crowds during his whistle-stops. MUSOVA.

Galu #1
Guest
Galu #1

DPP Ndi Mafia….. I don’t know why you bother yourself voting for such a party when they only care for you once every 5 years

Bakali
Guest

Atleast Dpp cares Mcp does not care about human life. Seriously why vote for a n’gona party. Kudyetsa anthu ku n’goni kumanga anthu on mere suspicion without trial. Kupha anthu. Kuka day anthu katundu. Kupha Junan, kupha wapolice ndikumasangalala . Malawians reject Mcp!!

Gobede
Guest
Gobede

Coleman zako upitenso ku xul vuto la cu ya Bakili ndilimeneli.Care ili pat man?Anthu akuthawa ku stadium under quarantine no ma toilet,phwanya ndi zoona zotere.21 days rock down with no food ganizira Venda poeza chakudya cha daily usawi Chichi? Nanga ku 24 anthu mudaotcha aja? Iwe mwapuya iwe! Iwe! , Undibasope!

Nduna ya Chalo
Guest
Nduna ya Chalo

This issue is a testimony; When God is with us; nobody will be against us: What scares me is how many cases were determined under the influence of money; what gave these DPP guys confidence is that someone did it and it worked. Shame to the judiciary.

Adam, the wise man
Guest
Adam, the wise man

Congratulations to the judges. Really sad that such a respected man could be part of a poorly planned adventure. He has put his life work in jeopardy for nothing. All this respected man had to do was to help his party hire better lawyer and present a stronger case. May God help him

Were
Guest
Were

Ma judge, go and help Chilima to campaign. Akuyiwona Nyenkhwetu!

guti
Guest
guti

Sensible Malawians know that these judges were bribed by the opposition and that is why they did not annul parliamentary and local government election results despite tippex being used there as well. They slotted in 50+1 to help Chilima and Chakwera. BUT, we are not fools. We know the plot and the fact that the judges took bribes from the opposition.

guest
Guest
guest

what about the Mangochi West…..phumatu…..get ur facts correct b4 posting a comment ma khadeti

Galu #1
Guest
Galu #1

You really are stupid! Every MP that was cheated can go to the courts. They are not stopping you infact DPP will even lose more house representatives e.g nsanje and mangochi. It is not the job of judges to assume things

Please argue with facts not just for the sake of opening your mouth.

Bauleni
Guest

You want facts? Mcp has never won a single election. Any fair election. Mcp always disputes every election. Mcp is a brutal nasty killer party. Mcp will never rule Malawi again.

Gobede
Guest
Gobede

Lemekeza chigamulo cha liti🙏

Nabetha
Guest
Nabetha

Thank you Lord for raising the standards through these your creation xxxxx

Mwini muzi.
Guest

When someone has been arrested, it indicates that all evidence is ready and court proceedings should start immediately after arrest. Right now justice is being denied by delay on the part Thom Mpinganjira. If he solicited a bribe, where is the other party on the Judges side? This is a politically motivated case which hence ACB is waiting for elections to see who wins. If DPP wins, this case will be thrown out but if MCP wins, Matemba will take Thom to court to just punish the DPP.

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