The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has finished its prosecution case in a matter which business mogul Thom Mpinganjira is accused of allegedly attempting to bribe five High Court judges sitting as the Constitutional Court in the May 21, 2019 presidential election nullification petition case and with no evidence tendered of bribes exchanging hands, the defence has indicated it will make a submission that there is no ‘prima facie’ case, that is, that there is no case ‘on the face of it’.
Judge Dorothy DeGabrielle has given ACB and lawyers representing Mpinganjira five days to make their submissions after prosecution paraded all its witnesses that included the five judges who were on the panel as the Constitutional Court
and Dan Mponda, the bureau’s director of investigations.
In all their testimonies, all the judges including Justice Healy Potani, Mike Tembo, Dingiswayo Madise, Redson Kapindu and Ivy Kamanga, they are told the court they did not receive any money as a bribe from Mpinganjira.
None of the judges also testified that they saw a parcel with cash, but the issue of a parcel was heard and that of cash bribe being given was largely hearsay. Some testimony was tenuous and inconsistent in nature.
On Friday as last prosecution witness, Kamanga—now Justice of Appeal—told the court the judges learnt about Mpinganjira’s alleged attempts to bribe them following an understanding they reached that any judge must share any conversation or issue he or she encounters in relation to the case.
“So, on October 10, 2019 during lunch hour, Justice [Healy] Potani, who was the in-charge of our panel, told us he had shocking news to tell us.
“That is when he broke the news that he had received a phone call from Mr Mpinganjira asking if he had received a parcel to pass on to us judges who were hearing the elections case,” explained Kamanga.
Kamanga further claimed in the talk Mpinganjira discussed all the judges hearing the case and only excluded her because “he was not sure if she was going to be persuaded.”
When one of Mpinganjira’s lawyers Fostino Maele asked Kamanga why it took three months before reporting the matter to ACB, Judge Kamanga stated: “We were aware of the need to immediately report the issue to ACB, but we were handling a matter of national interest and we agreed not to do so because of the atmosphere then.
On his testimony, Mponda was conspicuously s shaking when he was asked to explicitly point out where Mpinganjira said ‘here is money’ for he judges to influence their judgement in favour of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its leader Peter Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
He said in matters of bribery people do not come out to explicitly say they are trying to bribe someone.
Mponda disclosed that in their findings they did not find the said parcel nor did they substantiate that Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judge Lovemore Chikopa
was getting money to give to Potani and ACB cleared him of any wrongdoing.
ACB investigate Chikopa after he was linked to a case where Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda lodged a complaint to the ACB that two judges—Potani and Tembo—had reported alleged attempts by Mpinganjira to influence their judgement in favour of one of the parties in the case.
Chikopa was on the seven-judge Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal panel that on Friday upheld the Constitutional Court judgement of February 3 that nullified the presidential election results and ordered a fresh election set for July 2.
The judges were recently named winners of a prestigious international award for overturning presidential elections for rigging.
The London-based think-tank Chatham House lauded the judges for bravery and independence after they cancelled the re-election of then incumbent Peter Mutharika in a historic decision for elections in Africa.
They ordered new elections, which were held on June 23 and won by opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera who teamed up with Saulos Chilima as vice president.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :