Malawi law professor Danwood Mzikenge Chirwa has called for President Peter Mutharika to voluntary resign as Head of State or impeachment proceedings to be commenced against him for “bribing” media practitioners that had dinner with him at Sanjika Palace last Tuesday.
Chirwa, a professor of law at the prestigious University of Cape Town in South Africa, told Nyasa Times that the grounds of Mutharika’s impeachment are twofold.
Firstly, Mutharika is accused of publicly bribing journalist he hosted with K50 000 each. Secondly, he is accused of patronising an ethnic cultural event [Mulakho wa Alomwe] which had used public funds to cover part of the costs of hosting the event.
“Both incidents show his proclivity towards criminal behaviour and actual participation in criminality,” Chirwa told Nyasa Times.
The law professor stated: “It is deeply troublesome that as the cost of life is spiralling out of control for most Malawians, the judiciary is on strike, teachers have not been paid their meagre salaries, primary school learners are not in class and patients are dying in hospitals and at home, the President continues to abuse state resources with reckless abandon.
“His brother stands accused of having drained over 90 billion kwacha from which he has unjustly benefited. We had expected that Peter Mutharika would distance himself from the fraudulent and nepotistic DPP and regain public trust by carrying out a sincere campaign against looting of state resources. On the contrary, Peter Mutharika is proving to be a worse demagogue than his elder brother.”
Chirwa in his no-holds-barred interview with Nyasa Times said it is difficult to understand how President Mutharika could continue milking resources from this bankrupt government.
“Either he is in a vegetative state which makes him incapable of excising his mind, or his thinking capacity has dwindled due to old age. On either ground, he is disqualified from acting as President of Malawi,” the law expert said of the 75-year-old Malawi Head of State who was controversially elected in May, 2014.
The University of Cape Town law connoisseur said it is an impeachable offence for a President to commit a criminal offence while in office.
“He is not the first to this, but the public must begin to hold these morally challenged leaders to account.”
On the allegations of bribing journalists, Chirwa cited a newspaper column by Times TV editor Gracian Tukula who disclosed that at a recent meeting with journalists the President hosted , the Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa misled them into believing that the envelops they were being given contained the President’s plans for the media.
It turned out that the envelopes contained stacks of 50 000 kwacha.
Tukula wrote on his column: “When I saw people getting out of the banqueting hall and returning with a big dark blue envelope I assumed that was the promised booklet and went out to collect mine. When I went outside I got my own envelope, a pen and another envelope. I was shocked to note that there was no booklet in the first place, but a blank pad in a branded wallet. The other envelope had K500 notes amounting to K50,000! I could not hide my surprise to my table mates. It simply did not make sense to me. I first thought of returning it but did not want to create a scene. What should I do with it?”
Nyasa Times journalists who attended the meeting also confirmed receiving the “blue envelops” which contained cash.
Chirwa commented: “If the bribe was indeed the President’s plan, then we have a more serious problem that just this single blatant act of bribery. The President has committed himself to corrupting journalists in future. It is unconscionable enough that the office of the presidency should be occupied by deeply flawed, corrupt and nepotistic individuals. It is worse when such individuals act with impunity and commit bribery in front of the whole press and with members of the press.”
He continued: “The bigotry of the President is manifested in the fact that he had the audacity to make a plea at the same event to donors to give his government money. The question is, does he want more money so that he can continue to convert it to his own use and maintain his networks of patronage and corruption?
“ What will it take for these presidents to realise that they cannot continue to steal from the state, that stealing from the state is stealing from their own poor Malawians, that stealing from the state is criminal and unconscionable? How long shall poor Malawians suffer and continue to lead languid lives in poverty before President Mutharika and his henchmen realise that the people need ethical and stately leadership.”
Chirwa challenged the journalists involved that they have a moral obligation to return the money and to report the bribery to the authorities.
“ Indeed, it is deeply troubling when a whole cohort of journalists sees blatant corruption but do not notice and report it immediately. This underlines how deeply embedded corruption is in our society and the need for extraordinary measures to combat it. That includes an immediate demand for Mutharika to resign on his own or be impeached,” said Chirwa.
The law expert said the conduct of he President constitutes crimes under sections 25B and 26 of the Corrupt Practices Acts.
He called for the opposition parties and MPs to “arise from their slumber and begin to lead” accusing them of being . “ too soft on corruption and government incompetence,” which he said is itself very worrying.
“This country needs to stop corruption and abuse of state resources,” said Chirwa.
Before the meeting with the President, Ministry of Information said in a statement that government would pay journalists travelling outside Blantyre K30,000 each as accommodation allowance. The money was paid plus K50,000 from the President.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :