ACB clears Lovemore Chikopa, Lazarus Chakwera
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said it has cleared Supreme Court Judge, Lovemore Chikopa and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President Lazarus Chakwera of wrongdoing in allegations of bribery and drawing a salary without attending Parliament, respectively.
ACB Director-General Reyneck Matemba disclosed in an exclusive interview that his office had been investigating Chikopa in relation to allegations that some individuals attempted to bribe High Court judges who were hearing the presidential election case.
Former FDH Financial Holdings Chief Executive Officer, Thom Mpinganjira, was arrested in connection with the matter.
Before Mpinganjira’s arrest, Matemba said ACB was investigating two people, one from the private sector and a senior public officer who, allegedly, wanted to bribe the judges.
But, in an interview with The Daily Times, Matemba disclosed that the senior public official whose name was withheld in January was Judge Chikopa who has since been cleared of wrongdoing.
“Investigations concluded a month ago and the ACB communicated with the Chief Justice immediately after the investigations. That is why he [Chikopa] was included on the panel hearing the presidential election appeal case,” Matemba said.
He could, however, not indicate when Mpinganjira is expected to appear in court.
Five High Court judges, Healey Potani, Dingiswayo Madise, Ivy Kamanga, Redson Kapindu and Mike Tembo, heard the election petition case in which Chakwera and UTM president Saulos Chilima— who have now partnered ahead of the court-sanctioned fresh presidential election—successfully proved that the 2019 poll was marred by irregularities.
Mec declared Democratic Progressive Party candidate, Peter Mutharika, winner of the election but the declaration was nullified by the High Court judges whose decision was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeal last Friday.
Chikopa was one of the seven Supreme Court judges who presided over the presidential election appeal case alongside Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and Justices Rezine Mzikamanda, Frank Kapanda, Anthony Kamanga, Edward Twea, and Anaclet Chipeta.
On Chakwera, Matemba said ACB received a complaint in March this year that the MCP leader was receiving a salary without attending Parliament.
“We saw no merit in the complaint because our understanding is that MPs are paid a salary by virtue of being lawmakers and not because they are attending Parliament. That is why they are given sitting allowances for attending Parliament,” Matemba said.
There are nine Supreme Court of Appeal judges in Malawi and with Mec Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah being an interested party in the election appeal case and Justice Dustan Mwaungulu reportedly ill, the remaining seven had to form the highest possible panel that heard the appeal case.