The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has called upon both current and former holders of any legal or political office(s) who are required to play any role as part of managing the ongoing investigations into businessman Zuneth Sattar.
MLS encourages those required to account under the ongoing investigations into allegations of corrupt activities, to accord the Anti-Corruption Bureau full and genuine co-operation consistent with its authority and autonomy “to exercise its functions and powers independent of the direction or interference of any other person or authority”.
In a public statement issued on Thursday, December 2, 2021 and signed by Patrick Gray Mpaka and Chrispin Chimwemwe Ngunde, Chairman and Honorary Secretary, respectively, the Society says any direct or indirect interference or any form of direction to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) by any person or office holder present or past in regard to the conduct of functions of the Bureau is an illegality and does not promote the rule of law or protect the public interest in seeking to curb corruption and develop the country for all.
“The Malawi Law Society calls upon the Bureau to remain true to and consistent with the spirit of the law in performing its functions. Similarly, in whatever capacity it falls before them to contribute to the administration of justice on the subject matter, members of the legal profession are, for the sake of the public interest, and the general good, which the law primarily seeks to serve, reminded of each member’s duty of candour and the need to conduct any legal process in compliance with the highest applicable standards in a manner that does not bring disrepute and opprobrium to or undermine the integrity of the legal profession in the fight against corruption,” reads the statement, further reminding all state actors in all the three branches of government that “all legal and political authority of the State derives from the people of Malawi as a whole, solely to serve and protect their interests”.
In the statement, the Society notes the public interest on the subject, the steps that have been taken and the position of the Courts on the matters that have so far come before them, and the sentiments publicly expressed by the Director of the ACB on the state of investigation into the allegations, and to the extent of its (MLS) authority under section 64(d) of the Legal Education and Legal Practitioners Act, the Society is closely following the proceedings and processes concerning the matter.
It says there is a specific legal obligation on the part of the State to take measures aimed at eradicating social injustices and inequalities.
“Sustained high level corruption has been among the major and primary setbacks undermining the realisation of the will and aspirations of the people of Malawi to progressive development,” reads the statement, adding that as part of containing the crosscutting vice of corruption, the people of Malawi through their legislative processes created the ACB.
“By law, the Bureau has to exercise ‘its functions and powers independent of the direction or interference of any other person or authority’.
“The Malawi Law Society in exercise of its mandate has obtained certain information suggesting attempts by certain state actors and some individuals at influencing or interfering or directing or misdirecting the Bureau on how to conduct its functions in the investigations concerning the allegations surrounding the alleged corrupt dealings by the said Zuneth Sattar,” reads the statement.
On November 24, 2021, High Court Judge Mike Tembo dismissed an application by Sattar, where he sought permission to apply for the judicial review of the decision of the 1st Defendant (ACB) to offer assistance to the United Kingdom Government.