Three former Cabinet ministers face arrests as their case files move from the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) due to inaction by the former.
Information sourced by the media indicate that the three are former Youth and Sports Development minister Symon Vuwa Kaunda who publicly confessed to have been offered a K5 million (about $20 000) bribe but did not report it; former minister of Information and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati over her role at the Ministry of Tourism in the awarding of the Nyika-Vwaza Concession and former Natural Resources, Energy and Environment minister Goodall Gondwe in relation to fertiliser procurement.
ACB concluded investigations a long time ago but, despite coming up with conclusions of possible wrong doing, insiders say “there was no political will” to prosecute them as they were top guns in government.
Wednesday, Kaliati said she was tired of hearing about the Nyika-Vwaza Concession and described her arrest as “political in nature.” She said her pursuers were better off “throwing me into the lake” than wasting time chasing ghosts.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara on Wednesday could not confirm the arrest or action as his office does not deal with the issues.
But Kasambara said by the end of this week, all cases that were concluded but no action was taken would be taken over by the DPP.
ACB director Alexious Nampota was arrested on Thursday last week, effectively putting him off all new matters at the bureau. This would mean the 30-day deadline the Ministry of Justice had given to the ACB would automatically fall this week without action.
“By the end of this week, if there is no action on completed cases, they will be taken over by the DPP. That ultimatum, given three weeks ago, stands. This means it will be up to the DPP to decide,” said Kasambara.
He said matters in question were already investigated and government would just be taking action on them; hence, it could not be witch-hunting as the investigations were not done by the Joyce Banda administration.
Kaunda and Gondwe’s numbers could not be reached on Wednesday, but Kaliati said all dealings with the Abu Dhabi Group were transparent. She said they were only offered “tea and tangerines” and nothing more.
“We met the Abu Dhabi delegation together as a group alongside other MPs and [government] officials. They offered to tarmac Nyika-Chitipa Road, build an airport in Mzuzu. They later donated to disaster relief and an official delegation that came to Malawi met the then Foreign Affairs minister [now President] Joyce Banda. Should we say everyone they met was bribed?” said Kaliati.
The three are also suspected to be at the centre of controversy surrounding transition and a Cabinet decision to challenge President Joyce Banda’s ascension after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika.