The Malawi Government has dismissed assertions by the Forum for National Development (FND) that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Attorney General (AG) are being influenced to prosecute businessman Zuneth Sattar and his associates.
FND chairperson Bright Kampaundi and his national coordinator, Fryson Chodzi, in a statement issued on January 11, 2022, accused ACB and AG of being under pressure from the British National Crime Agency (NCA) to prosecute Sattar over alleged bribery and corruption.
Sattar was arrested by the NCA in United Kingdom after a three year investigation and will be charged under the British courts while the Politically Exposed Persons will face the music in the Malawi courts.
The ACB is largely funded by the British government and have for a number of years received technical assistance from Her Majesty’s government.
FND cited a statement AG Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda made in relation to the visit of officers from the British National Crime Agency (NCA) to ACB offices without his knowledge.
“In the statement of 9th January 2022, the AG has come out as an appropriate authority to engage with the British Government. What is ironic is that the statement has come on the background of FND letter dated 4th January 2022 where we demanded the Cooperation agreement that the ACB used in engaging the NCA.
“What the AG statement has shown is that the previous ACB engagement with NCA was not from his office which is the authority on the matter, the question then is, how did the ACB sidestep the authority of the AG to engage directly with the NCA? How legal were the actions of ACB and NCA including searching private property, participating in interviewing suspects when NCA had no legal jurisdiction in Malawi?” they asked.
“The ACB already issued a stop and freezing order of dealing with Sattar’s companies to all Government agencies, then comes the AG issuing a similar pronouncement? Is it a process of trying to outdo each other? Did the AG engage the ACB before making the pronouncement?
“Furthermore, the ACB seems not to be aware of the amnesty being extended by the AG which is another cause of concern on the relationship between the two offices. Then there is a matter of state offices and relationship with social media influencers.
“We have noted in ACB continued leakage of information to some social media influencer. FND already raised the matter with the ACB and we are yet to get a response,” added the statement.
Kampaundi and Chodzi further observed that most of the ACB actions “are first pre-emptied by social media influencers.”
“What is the level of influence does these social media influencers have on ACB? We would want to know who is doing this at ACB? Is the Director surrounded by moles? Isn’t this breaking the oath of secrecy? Is it professional to be getting inside information about ACB from social media?
“There are social media influencers who speak with authority about this matter yet ACB or any state agency have never summoned them to substantiate their claims and aid the investigations.
“We therefore request for the state agencies including the AG, the ACB, Fiscal Police, the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP)to start showing professionalism and lawfulness in as far as dealing with the matter as it will also demonstrate level of seriousness is dealing with perceived corruption,” said Kampaundi and Chodzi in the statement.
However, the Minister of Information and Government Spokesperson, Gospel Kazako, argued that the offices of ACB and AG carry out their mandates independently.
“We reserve our comment as these are independent institutions and we believe they are capable of doing their job independently and professionally. Our comment has a potential of smelling a fragrance that can easily be misinterpreted as interference, so we prefer not commenting,” said the minister.
Some commentators are questioning the move by FND while they should be supporting the government to arrest and convict those strangling Malawians with poverty, disease and hunger.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :