Anti-Corruption Bureau clings to Mordecai Msisha in Saulos Chilima, Zuneth Sattar case
By Cathy Maulidi:
There has been slow progress in businessman Zuneth Sattar-linked corruption cases months after the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) made some arrests in relation to alleged corrupt practices.
And details have emerged that the ACB still wants the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Masauko Chamkakala to reverse the decision made by his predecessor, Steven Kayuni.
Kayuni objected to the bureau’s request to allow private practice lawyer Mordecai Msisha to represent it in the case.
On November 25 2022, ACB agents arrested Vice President Saulos Chilima on the allegation that, between March 2021 and October 2021, he received money amounting to $280,000 and other items from Sattar as a reward for him to allegedly assist Sattar’s companies, Xavier Limited and Malachite FZE, to be awarded contracts by the Malawi Government.
On the day of arrest, Chilima was taken to court, where he was formally charged with three counts of corrupt practices by a public officer, two counts of receiving advantage using influence and a count of failing to make a full report to a police officer or an officer of the ACB that an advantage had been corruptly given.
Almost five months after he was formally charged, there has been slow progress as full trial is yet to commence.
ACB Principal Public Relations Officer Egrita Ndala told The Daily Times Tuesday that there are processes that have led to delays to commence trial.
“The case of the Vice President is in the process of being committed to the Financial Crimes Court and is also awaiting the appointment of a private prosecutor, both of which is done by the Director of Public Prosecutions,” Ndala said.
On suggestions that the ACB can use available lawyers since the appointment of a private practice lawyer seems to be taking long, Ndala said the bureau requires extra eyes and hands since this is a high-profile case.
“The Vice President is a high-profile person. The bureau requires extra independent eyes and hands on the matter,” Ndala said.
The bureau had sought the services of Msisha to help in prosecuting the Chilima case.
Chamkakala said there are processes that are followed before appointing a private practice lawyer.
“There are processes which need to be undertaken before these decisions are done. We are finalising those as we speak,” Chamkakala said.
Unlike other suspects in Sattar-linked cases, Chilima has not protested his arrest and he is on record to have told journalists in Lilongwe, immediately after his court appearance, that he would let justice systems work.
Other suspects in Sattar-linked cases, including former minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa and Sattar’s business associate Ashok Nair, protested their prosecution.
Not only has the commencement of Chilima’s prosecution delayed; Msukwa and Nair’s cases have stalled, too.
Last year, High Court Judge Redson Kapindu ruled that ACB can use evidence from the National Crimes Agency but Justice of Appeal Frank Kapanda stayed the decision of the subordinate court pending an appeal that Msukwa and Nair sought on the matter.
The stay order, granted to Msukwa and Nair by the Supreme Court last year, stopped ACB from commencing criminal proceedings against the two until their appeal is heard.
Asked on the status of this case, Supreme Court of Appeal and High Court Registrar Kondwani Banda said Msukwa’s appeal case was filed but awaits appointment of dates.
“We have an appeal by Kezzie Msukwa. It is yet to be heard. It was filed with the Supreme Court earlier this month. The parties are yet to file the necessary documents to make it trial-ready so [that] we can assign a date to it,” Banda said.
Apart from Chilima, Ashok and Msukwa, other suspects in the Sattar-linked case include former inspector general of police George Kainja, former chairperson for the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority John Suzi Banda, former principal secretary for Lands Reyneck Matemba, police officer Mwabi Kalua, Farlene Jere and Patrick Lupoka.