The ACB says the Director of Public Prosecutions gave it consent to prosecute former minister Patricia Kaliati for corruption and abuse of office a year ago but the fired ACB director Alex Nampota did nothing about it.

“Please take note that the application for consent in this matter was handled by the director who is currently not in office,” Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) senior public relations officer Egrita Ndala said in a brief response to a questionnaire. “However, consultations between the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Director of Public Prosecutions have confirmed that the consent was granted. The bureau will liaise with the Director of Public Prosecutions for a way forward on the matter.”

Weekend Nation contacted the bureau when the office of the DPP on Monday confirmed granting the consent for ACB to prosecute Kaliati and two others for abuse office, corruption and forgery.

Ironically, it is Nampota himself who sought the DPP’s consent for prosecution when an ACB probe, following Weekend Nation’s expose of how Kaliati, while serving as Minister of Gender, Children and Community Development, influenced Ministry of Education officials to admit 76 students into various secondary schools in the Shire Highlands Division, strongly concluded that the former minister may have committed offences under the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA).

But Nampota said on Thursday, the legal and prosecution division of the Bureau was still examining the circumstances and conducting further research on the case to determine whether indeed the evidence could sustain a prosecutable case.

Said Nampota in response to our questionnaire: “I do recall that when I received reports on Honourable Kaliati on the Ministry of Education matter and Honourable Goodall Gondwe on the fertilizer matter, I took the following steps: I sought legal opinions from the private lawyers who were to prosecute the Hon Goodall Gondwe matter and from our internal prosecution division on the Kaliati matter on whether we could mount a successful prosecution on the two matters. On both of them, there were recommendations to do more investigation work as the evidence could not sustain a prosecution at that stage. I referred the matters back to investigations for further work.

“I was, however, satisfied at this stage that though the evidence so far gathered was not enough to sustain a prosecution, it had established conduct conducive or connected to corrupt practices. In terms of section 10(4) of the Corrupt Practices, I submitted a briefing report to the former Head of State as I was entitled to do so under the above section. Five days later, I noted the President had dissolved Cabinet and dropped the two ministers.”

The DPP issued the consent on July 8 2011 following conclusion of investigations into the matter in late 2009.

But Nampota said the consent was issued on the understanding “that we would only prosecute when the evidence gathered further qualified the cases as strong cases.” He insisted that obtaining consent does not necessary mean that matters should be prosecuted, arguing there are a good numbers of cases in the Anti-Corruption Bureau “where we obtained consent but subsequently the investigations finally revealed that the matters were not worthy persecuting.”

The ACB report says Kaliati influenced the admission of 76 pupils to Phalombe, Mulanje, Thyolo, Luchenza and Chiradzulu secondary schools as a campaign tool to win votes in the 2009 parliamentary elections.

The ACB report says the bureau received a complaint on September 22, 2009, alleging that Kaliati, with the help of assistant chief education officer Oscar Maganga and others, manipulated systems to place the students, whom she described as “needy” in secondary schools without the minister responsible and other senior officials in the ministry knowing.

The admission of the 76 pupils led to the interdiction of Maganga. However, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Lindiwe Chide, said this week Maganga was later cleared of wrong doing through an internal process and is now serving as district education manager (DEM) in Ntchisi.

Normally, the ministry selects students into Form 1 using Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) examination results administered by the Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb).

However, some selected students do not report for classes in Form 1 for various reasons. In this case, the vacancies created are filled through a second selection of students.

In the second selection, the ministry considers the next lot of PSLCE candidates with better grades. If vacancies still exist, the ministry admits students into secondary schools based on requests in writing, from guardians as well as students who wish to be considered for a place at secondary school.

In some cases, the ministry upgrades students from community day secondary schools to national boarding secondary schools. The ministry also considers written requests from guardians and students into forms 2 and 4.

Both in second selection into Form 1 and admissions into Forms 1 to 4, the office of the Director of Secondary Education in the ministry deploys a memo to the Minister of Education through the Principal Secretary, seeking approval to fill vacancies in secondary schools.

These are the procedures that the ACB alleges were not followed in the way Kaliati, Maganga and others convinced education division management and head teachers in the concerned schools to admit wards of Kaliati’s prospective voters.

But in an interview on Monday, Kaliati was defiant.

“Which procedures are you talking about? I didn’t do anything wrong in that issue,” she said. “Whatever you and ACB may conclude, go and find out the procedures at the Ministry of Education.”

But the ACB report claims that interviews with Ministry of Education officials, head teachers, Democratic Progressive Party constituency officials in Mulanje West, students and parents all pointed to wrong doing on the part of Kaliati and her co-accused.

In total, ACB interviewed 27 people.

“On 24th April 2009, Mr. O.B.E. Maganga, assistant chief education officer in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, wrote the education division manager for Shire Highlands Education Division (Shed) on behalf of the secretary to the ministry to advise her on the admission of 76 students within Shire Highlands Education Division Secondary Schools,” reads the report.

Allegations against Kaliati

According to ACB findings, this led to illegal admissions of 33 students in Form 1, 13 in Form 2, 21 in Form 3 and nine in Form 4 at Luchenza, Thyolo, Phalombe, Mulanje and Chiradzulu secondary schools combined.

“Mr. Maganga further advised the education division manager to inform the head teachers concerned to adjust their school records accordingly. However, in issuing this instruction, Mr. Maganga did not seek prior approval from the Minister nor did he inform his superiors about what he did,” alleges ACB.

Apparently, the same list of names attached to Maganga’s letter reference number 1/7/10 dated 24 April 2009, was also delivered to Shed by Kaliati’s constituency governor Bob Maonga.

While the list was delivered to Shed, Kaliati also sent a similar list to all the five concerned secondary schools.

“Mr. Maonga confirmed to have been sent by Hon. Patricia Kaliati to deliver the envelope containing names of students admitted to various secondary schools through Hon. Kaliati’s influence,” claims the report.

The report alleges that before the desk officer for secondary schools at Shed, Roseby Mahambuwa, could dispatch the names to the concerned secondary schools, she was informed by head teachers that they had already received the lists.

All the admissions to the five secondary schools happened between February and early May 2009 just before the May 18 polls.

To ensure that only wards of Kaliati’s prospective voters were admitted, alleges the report, Kaliati’s brother Nkuya made both telephone and physical follow-ups with some of the concerned schools.

In some cases, Nkuya personally replaced some names on the lists in schools he visited on authority from Kaliati, according to the ACB report.

“…. about three days after the phone call, Mr. Nkuya visited Mulanje Secondary School and met both the head teacher, Mr. Likharuwe, and his deputy, Mr. Kalumbi. He came with a list of typed names to Mulanje Secondary School for admission. While in the head teacher’s office, Mr. Nkuya, however, asked Mr. Likharuwe to amend the list by dictating six additional names…,” alleges the ACB report.

Wherever Nkuya went, he left his cell phone number and that of Kaliati in case the schools wanted to follow-up, claims the report.

To prove that Kaliati helped the children in order for parents to vote for her, in some cases she allegedly forced schools to withdraw wards of those who did not vote for her in the May 19 elections.

The ACB report claims that on May 23 2009, four days after elections, Kaliati called a Bernard Nakoma to tell him that she would withdraw his ward because he and his wife did not vote for her.

“Luka Nakoma was indeed withdrawn from school as indicted by Hon. Kaliati. Mr and Mrs Nakoma voted in Mulanje Pasani Constituency which is adjacent to Hon. Kaliati’s Mulanje West constituency,” claims the report.

“Hon. Kaliati was corruptly using the admission of boys and girls from her constituency to secondary schools in Shire Highlands Education Division in order to win votes from the electorates during the 19 May 2009 general elections, contrary to Section 26 (2) of the Corrupt Practices Act.

The section reads: “Any person who by himself, or by or in conjunction with any other person, corruptly gives, promises or offers any advantage to any person, whether for the benefit of that person or of any other person, as an inducement or reward for doing or forbearing to do, or for having done or forborne to do, anything in relation to any matter or transaction, actual or proposed, with which any private body is or may be concerned shall be guilty of an offence.”

In his legal opinion on the report, ACB chief legal and prosecutions officer David Bandawe recommended that four people be prosecuted for their hand in the way the 76 students were admitted.

These are Kaliati, Maganga, Nkuya and Shed education division manager Hazel Manda.

Kaliati is to be prosecuted under section 25B (1) and (2).

Sub-section (1) reads: “Any public officer who uses, misuses or abuses his public office, or his position, status or authority as a public officer, for his personal advantage or for the advantage of another person or to obtain, directly or indirectly, for himself or for another person, any advantage, wealth, property, profit or business interest shall be guilty of an offence.”

While subsection (2) states that “Any person who uses his influence on, or induces or persuades, a public officer to use, misuse or abuse his public office, or his position, status or authority as a public officer, for such person’s advantage or for the advantage of another person or to obtain, directly or indirectly, for such person or for another person any advantage, wealth, property, profit or business interest shall be guilty of an offence.”

On the other hand, ACB wants Maganga prosecuted under Section 25B (1) and the Shed manager Manda prosecuted under Section 14(1) (a), both of the CPA.

Section 14 (1) (a) reads: “Any person who gives or causes to be given to the Bureau testimony or information or a report which is false in any material particular in relation to any matter under investigation by the Bureau.”

Manda is alleged to have lied to ACB that she did not know that the list of the 76 students came from Kaliati.

The ACB wants Kaliati’s brother, Nkuya, prosecuted under Section 25B (1), which says “Any public officer who uses, misuses or abuses his public office, or his position, status or authority as a public officer, for his personal advantage or for the advantage of another person or to obtain, directly or indirectly, for himself or for another person, any advantage, wealth, property, profit or business interest shall be guilty of an offence.”

All the students were dismissed from the five secondary schools when the Ministry of Education discovered the wrong doing much later.

Maganga twice refused to write a report to his boss, Lonely Magareta, director of Secondary Education when she queried his role, according to the ACB report.

Instead, alleges the report, Maganga opted to refer the matter to Kaliati who on a number of occasions called and threatened officials at the ministry headquarters in what the ACB claims is proof enough that she helped the students for her own good.

Weekend Nation first broke the story on September 19 2009 at which time the then principal secretary in the Ministry of Education Moffat Chitimbe said procedures were flouted in the admission of the students.

Our follow up stories also revealed that most of the pupils that Kaliati allegedly pushed into secondary schools actually failed PSLCE and were, therefore, not eligible for the places.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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