Politician Moses Kunkuyu, who leads a political pressure group called Transformation Alliance, has accused President Peter Mutharika of tolerating corruption in his government by harbouring sacred cows like former Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda who is being shielded from corruption prosecution.
Kunkuyu made the accusation during the interview program Straight Talk monitored by Nyasa Times from Capital FM Radio on Thursday.
“You don’t fight corruption by rhetoric, you fight corruption by action,” said Kunkuyu.
He accused Mutharika of failing to live up to promises to tackle corruption, saying some ruling party officials implicated in corruption are treated as scared cows.
Kunkuyu said it is “disappointing” that former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda is being shielded from prosecuton despite a recommendation by the commission of inquiry into Malawi’s maize imports from Zambia.
“Firing of Chaponda from Cabinet is not prosecution,” said Kunkuyu.
He said it was clear that the decision to fire Chaponda was forced on the President who would have maintained the minister if he had his way.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) deputy director Reyneck Matemba said the bureau is investigating Chaponda and issues related to the questionable procurement of maize by State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc).
But Kunkuu wondererd why ACB has not interrogated or even taken to court Chaponda after it seized money in excess of K160 million, which they deposited with the Reserve Bank of Malawi.
He said the shielding of Chaponda puts into question the moral standing of the President, the Executive and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
In a statement, ACB said investigations of such magnitude require enough time to ensure that the process is conducted thoroughly and in conformity to legal requirements.
However, Kunkuyu said the case of Chaponda in similar to that of Victor Sithole who was found with 122 million Malawi kwacha and $22, 000.
Sithole, who was government’s Accounts assistant, the second official to be found guilty over Cashgate was found guilty of stealing more than $66,000 in cash.
His arrest in August 2013 after cash was found in his car boot kick-started what became known as the “cashgate” affair – the worst financial scandal in the country’s history.
It became public knowledge a month later following the shooting of the finance ministry’s then budget director Paul Mphwiyo.
Kunkuyu wondered why Chaponda is not facing similar process of Sithole after ACB investigators confiscated K124 million, $57 500, 2 720 Indian rupee, 518 Ethiopian birr, 610 Pula, 1 200 meticais, 1 250 Kenya shillings, 80 Hong Kong dollars, 1 010 Japanese yen, 22 370 South African rands, 55 euros, 29 Zambian kwacha and 100 Namibian dollar which he was keeping in suitcases at his house.
“Where was Sithole on the night he was found with money in his car boots , did he sleep home?” wondered Kunkuyu.
Sithole was charged with three offences: Money laundering, illegal possession of foreign currency and being found with property reasonably suspected of being stolen and earned himself nine years imprisonment with hard labour.
Kunkuyu, who was the first to be appointed Cabinet minister in the past regime of president Joyce Banda, said the immediate past president allowed arrest of top government officials when they were fingured to be involved in Cashgate which is not the case in the current regime.
“The same officials who worked Joyce Banda are still working in the current regime and some are cabinet ministers,” noted Kunkuyu.
Kunkuyu said : “Malawi needs leadership that listen to the needs of the people.”
The new survey, carried out by Afrobarometer—a pan-African non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions and related issues in Africa—indicates that most Malawians feel corruption has increased “a lot”.
In its summary of findings, the survey shows that about half of Malawians think that “most” or “all” police officers, business executives and officials in the presidency are corrupt.
Two months ago, the South African-based Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa) and Africa Minds also made a damning summary in its report that successive Malawian Presidents have been involved in, or abetted, corruption by riding on mutating governance systems that have prevented citizens and even the ACB from holding them fully accountable.
The Malawi Confederation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) recently also admitted that corruption and fraud have become rampant and firmly rooted in doing business in Malawi, a development it said was making the country lose millions of public funds.
The 2017 Transparency International (TI) corruption index findings released in January this year also revealed corruption had worsened over the last few years resulting in the country drastically moving from position 88 in 2012 to 120 in 2016.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :