Watchdog want Malawi Police off prosecution of the Bill smuggling scandal

The Centre for Public Accountability (Open Malawi) has demanded that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) should take over or refer to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) a case in which a senior civil servant, economist Nations Msowoya and a former Presidential Advisor Pastor Martin Thom are being accused of smuggling a bill into Parliament.

Open Malawi Acting Executive Director, Kondwani Bell Munthali, in a confidential letter to the DPP at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, alleges that the Malawi Police Service has been playing hide and seek to prosecute and conclude the matter that affects the integrity and trust Malawians have over its elected representative body.

Pastor Thom Martin was fired as Advisor to President Chakwera

The letter, dated 25 October 2021, has been copied to the Director General of ACB, Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, Leader of Government Business, Leader of Opposition and all leaders of political parties represented in Parliament.

Munthali said the events surrounding the Bill Number 22 of 2021 (Loan Authorisation) has raised fundamental questions of trust over a very critical and supposedly independent arm of the government, the Malawi Parliament.

“The Malawi Constitution section 12 and section 8 are clear on how public trust, values and interests of all people can be achieved and places duty on the institution of parliament on the need of the same. The Malawi Police Services allegedly arrested a presidential aide Pastor Martin Thom and a Treasury official over the smuggling of the bill into Parliament.

“The amounts involved are more than K93 billion or close to four percent of our national budget, which would have burdened all Malawians to collectively pay for a loan whose interest was to raise bribes for its advocates,” reads the letter in part.

Nations Msowoya, former Director of Debt and Aid

Munthali wonders why the police decided to grant bail to Pastor Martin Thom despite the seriousness of the matter, which includes forgery of public official signatures and intent to dupe the more 18 million Malawians.

Thom flew out of the country barely a few days after being granted bail, which had no single condition and the suspect confirmed to the media of travelling to India to meet the institution that was supposedly to have provided loans and charged interest to Malawians, the Bank of Baroda.

“Looking at the behaviour and conduct of both the Malawi Police Services and Pastor Thom, one can be compelled to conclude that his arrest was staged to hoodwink Malawians to believe the matter was being addressed. The Malawi Police Services have taken almost a quarter of a year to bring Pastor Thom to even be formally charged before a competent court of law nor has it investigated who aided and abetted the smuggling of the bill into Parliament.

“As such, to guarantee independent investigation and prosecution, I request that your office take over the matter and or refer it to the Anti-Corruption Bureau to investigate the influences Bank of Baroda might have had through its agent self-identified as Pastor Thom,” says the letter.

Munthali concluded by introducing himself as the Acting Director for Centre for Public Accountability and its Open Malawi Programme whose primary objective is to enhance public services delivery through transparency and accountability as entailed in section 12 (1) (C) of the Malawi Constitution.

He expressed hope that the information requested would be provided within reasonable time as “we work to support your vision of improving delivery of public services.”

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