Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) director Lucas Kondowe has been summoned to appear before Public Accounts Committee of parliament over inaction of the ‘grand corruption’ also known as the K577 billion cashgate scandal which reportedly has members of the current government implicated.
PAC wants names of those suspected to have taken part in the plunder of public resources to be revealed and that progress should be made to have prosecution take place.
The suspects include seven cabinet ministers serving in President Peter Mutharika.
PAC chairperson Alekeni Menyani said they want Kondowe to explain “his conduct” to the nation on the way the bureau has been handling the 13 files of the ‘grand corruption.”
Kondowe will also explain on lack of progress in the matter, Menyani said.
As corruption in the country has significantly worsened , several stakeholders are bemoaning the slowdown in ACB prosecutions since President Peter Mutharika appointed Kondowe as Director General of ACB in October 2014.
Kondowe has also been hit with series of controversies including being fingered in corruption allegations. There are allegations by Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) that Kondowe was abusing his powers by seeking to influence the awarding of a contract for the construction of its headquarters building.
The apparent inaction on the warrant of arrests for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) national organising secretary Richard Makondi and businessperson Mohammad Kassam also put ACB on the spotlight.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Mary Kachale, continues to enjoy the public’s confidence but there is widespread worry that she may not be able to prevail against ACB Director Kondowe, whose intervention in the prosecutorial process has grown.
Formerly with First Merchant Bank, Kondowe has a strong relationship with the governing DPP’s Makondi. That explains, say many Malawians, why Makondi has not been prosecuted over an alleged fraud in 2013 involving a prominent businessman, Kassam, in a K895 mn. ($1.2 mn.) deal to supply 35 Toyota vehicles to the Malawi Defence Force.
Its former Commander, General Henry Odillo, and his deputy Clement Kafuwa were arrested over the deal in May last year but Kassam and Makondi have not been touched .
In March, a magistrate granted the ACB an arrest warrant for Makondi and Kassam, owner of Globe Electronics but the warrants were never enforced.
Insiders say Kondowe is responsible.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) national secretary Martin Chiphwanya said recent events at the bureau, such as reports of blocking warrants of arrest and fears of political interference, have led to lack of confidence in its operations.
“We have a bureau widely seen as ineffective but also unfairly using its powers. The recent allegations and reports against the leadership of the bureau have in particular been more damaging,” said Chiphwanya.
The President of the Malawi Law Society, John Suzi Banda, said the ACB’s ‘operational independence has been fatally compromised’.
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