REACTION BY LEADER OF OPPOSITION IN PARLIAMENT HONOURABLE DR. KONDWANI NANKHUMWA, MP TO THE ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT LAZARUS CHAKWERA ON SATTAR CORRUPTION SCANDAL
WEDNESDAY, 22ND JUNE, 2022
On Tuesday, 21st June, 2022, President of the Republic, His Excellency Lazarus Chakwera, took to the podium to address the nation regarding the corruption report on Zuneth Sattar, which was submitted by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) after he (President Chakwera) asked for the same three weeks ago.
As Leader of Opposition in Parliament, I would like to commend President Chakwera for rising to the occasion to make some initial and tough executive decisions based on the ACB report.
The President must be commended for removing the Inspector General of Police (IG), Dr. George Kainja, from his position for being named in the report. It is alleged that the former IG acted corruptly in his relationship with Zuneth Sattar.
President Chakwera has also done well to halt all delegated duties to his Vice President, Saulos Chilima, and for suspending his State House Chief of Staff, Prince Kapondam’gaga, as well as the Board Chair for PPDA, John Suzi-Banda, again for being suspected to have corruptly dealt with Sattar, until they are cleared of wrongdoing by ACB or any competent court of law. The President has also done very well in directing that procurement laws be strengthened to avoid things of this nature from happening again in future.
This is a commendable development because one of the best ways to fighting corruption is strengthening the legal environment as well as creating foolproof systems so that they are not easily infiltrated by corrupt minds, or those who do not mean well for our country. These are obviously the right steps Mr. President, and what Malawians have been expecting in as far as the fight against corruption is concerned.
It is, however, important to note at this stage that what the Bureau has given to President Chakwera is only a report, which contains a list of people suspected to have been corruptly involved with Sattar. It is not an open-and-shut case, meaning that the concerned people are still innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law.
Any outright crucifixion of people at this stage based on this ‘list’ would be an overkill and unfair to the mentioned individuals. In some cases, it may also be construed as being motivated by a political end-game. It is my prayer that this is not the case, and that President Chakwera is consistent in his decisions on this report in line with the law.
NEEDLESS ANGER TOWARDS ACB
It is extremely disappointing to note that despite the fact that Malawi taxpayers’ money was allegedly stolen, in billions, in this Sattar fiasco, the President spent over 60 percent of his time and address directing his anger at the ACB and its Director, Ms. Martha Chizuma. He claimed that the ACB is unprofessional and that its work is substandard “with rookie procedural and strategic mistakes that risk giving the corrupt cartels in our land a footing to obstruct and oppose every move we make to defeat them”.
President Chakwera projected Ms. Chizuma as somebody who does not know how to do her job apparently because the report did not include finer details about how the people that have been mentioned conducted themselves with Sattar. The President was also not happy with the fact that the Office of Chief Justice and the Office of Speaker of National Assembly have been furnished with the report. In his thinking, he should have been the only one to get the report from the Bureau.
This is where President Chakwera is getting it wrong. Under Section 4 (4) of the Corrupt Practices Act, the only kind of reports the President is entitled to receive are general conduct reports of the Bureau’s business. He has no power under our governing laws to ask for a special investigation report from the Bureau over a particular case. In fact, by asking the Bureau to furnish him with a special investigative report, the President was asking Bureau to break the law.
As the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, I would like to commend the Bureau for following the procedures as guided by the law in handling this matter, and I urge Ms. Martha Chizuma not to be cowed by any ranting or anger from the Highest Office.
President Chakwera is known for sitting on reports of national importance. For example, more than a year has passed now since he received a report and recommendations on Public Sector Reforms. It is possible that the ACB decided to share the report with other offices fearing that the President would sit on it like other reports, if he is the only one who is given.
I am personally suspicious over this ‘Presidential anger’ because this is the second time that President Chakwera has publicly shown his displeasure with Ms. Martha Chizuma over her conduct on the issue of Sattar. Is it possible that the President is deliberately creating an alibi, and setting the State for the removal of Ms. Martha Chizuma?
As Leader of Opposition in Parliament, I wish to urge the President to step back from this issue now that he has done what he needed to do, and let the Bureau do its work professionally according to the law
THANK YOU AND MAY GOD BLESS OUR NATION