Public Affairs Committee (PAC), a quasi-religious governance watchdog, has asked government to discontinue the case of former president Bakili Muluzi’s alleged K1.7 billion corruption case, a position which it says was already advanced in parliament by President Lazarus Chakwera and his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) while in opposition.
PAC formed in 1992 during the country’s political transition from one-party to multiparty system of government said in a statement assessing the year 2020 which tackles governance issues, saying the Muluzi case should be discontinued and “a political solution should be sought as it has been a waste of taxpayers money.”
In a statement, co-signed by PAC chairperson Patrick Thawale and publicity secretary the Reverend Gilford Matonga, the body cites the lengthy court case that dates back to 2005 as a waste of public funds.
Muluzi, 80 is being tried along with his former secretary Lynes Whiskey as government claimed 1.7 billion Malawian kwacha ($12 million) in the former president’s account during his 1994-2004 presidency came from donors.
But court documents shows most of the funds were from his business empire and donation for his political party campaign from Taiwan, Morocco and Libya which were paid in his name and not for government.
PAC observed the case of Muluzi “became a political tool in the fight against corruption” when his handpicked successor late Bingu wa Mutharika came to power.
The quasi-religious body question the rationale of spending taxpayers money in such matter which has not yielded results in the past 14 years.
“PAC is of the view that the matter be discontinued through dialogue in a bid to secure a political solution. The government expenditure on such a prolonged matter is huge and the tendency to activate such a matter for political gains has been a dent in the pursuit of the rule of law.
“The use of a statute in such a manner is tantamount to the ‘weaponization’ of the law – a view that has been previously voiced,” reads the statement in part.
PAC also cites previously pronounced positions made by Chakwera and members of MCP while in opposition benches in parliament when they called for discontinuance of Muluzi’s case.
“We further take notice of remarks made in the Year 2020 by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) asking government to drop all corruption charges against former president, Bakili Muluzi. On this point we recall that the party’s Member of Parliament for Kasungu South East, Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, made a plea on 25th February during Parliamentary deliberations asking government to drop the charges against Dr. Muluzi,” reads the statement.
Chiponda, now Minister of Health, is on record to have said in parliament: “The former president is ageing. I feel the case has become torturous to him and it is costing taxpayers money.”
PAC strongly calls upon the current regime to ensure that the matter takes the route of political solution.
“By taking this position, PAC is in no way stating that people must go scot-free in the fight against corruption nor do we condone abuse of office. From public policy point of view, the matter has been a waste of resources and an essential political tool for those in power to silence the Former Head of State,” the body said.
Former graft-busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Reyneck Matemba recently also said the 14-year-old Muluzi case needs political solution.
Matemba doubted if the case can come to a conclusion using the judiciary.
“My own personal opinion is that the case needs a political solution, that is my personal opinion,” said Matemba without explaining much.
Matemba, a practising lawyer, recused himself from prosecuting the case, citing personal reasons when he was deputy director at ACB.
His former boss director Lucas Kondowe had been on record saying he had serious “reservations” with certain aspects of the K1.7 billion corruption case.
The former ACB boss said before he joined the bureau, his opinion of the Muluzi case was like most people, “which was an opinion driven by the media reports that I had read from various sources.”
Kondowe said when he became head of ACB he requested to review the files to “understand the facts of the case thoroughly instead of just receiving the button and running with it.”
He said: “This is one of the best documented cases I have ever seen at the Bureau with over 16 files of material and a great amount of money spent travelling across the globe, conducting interviews and collecting data and various materials. Thanks to the British government which financed most of this work.
“I have also held private discussions with two of my predecessors who presided as DG(s) at the material time. I will not discuss the details of those discussions as they were private. I have enormous respect and admiration for these two great sons of Malawi for their service to the nation.”
Kondowe said: “I have expressed reservations with certain aspects of the case which I have discussed with my colleagues at the Bureau in great detail. We have had numerous debates on certain matters that I feel strongly about and would like these resolved as they would have dire consequences.”
The former president has always said the charges were politically motivated.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :