HRDC on ACB’s neck over delays
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) is demanding answers from the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) on cases that were brought to it for investigations and has since warned of widespread demonstrations if the demands are not met.
HRDC, in a letter to ACB dated February 3 2021, takes the graft-busting body to task for delaying to investigate, prosecute and conclude high-profile suspected corruption cases the coalition brought to the bureau’s attention through its whistle-blower initiative.
The letter, which HRDC Executive Director Gift Trapence, National Coordinator Luke Tembo and regional
leaders have signed, calls for the speedy conclusion of alleged corruption cases at Malawi Revenue Authority, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi, Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority and National Oil Company of Malawi, among others.
“Equally important is the progress of the case of Shekhar More for his alleged attempt to corrupt an HRDC official. HRDC would like to request ACB to collaborate with FIA [Financial Intelligence Agency] and also engage FIA India to check monetary transaction records of Shekhar in India if he had the alleged amount of money in relation to the investments he claims to have in Malawi prior to his arrival in Malawi,” the statement reads.
The coalition leaders claim that they have been receiving queries from Malawians regarding delays to prosecute the cases.
“If there are continued delays in draining the swamp and investigating cases of Shekhar More and others, we will have no option but to mobilise Malawians for demonstrations against ACB,” HRDC says in the letter.
ACB spokesperson Egritta Ndala said the bureau will formally respond to the letter when it receives it and has reviewed it’s contents.
“The Deputy Director is still in Blantyre and at this time most staff has already knocked off, so I will have to come back to you,” Ndala said when called.
ACB does not have a Director General following former chief Reyneck Matemba’s deployment to the Ministry of Justice as Solicitor General.
In a seperate interview Trapence confirmed to have authored the letter to ACB, saying there was a growing concern that most of the cases that were reported to the bureau had not seen light at the end of the day.
“Malawians are expecting more from the cases that were reported through our initiatives. There was too much backlog of cases at ACB and there was a need for the government to speed up the hiring of the director general of the bureau,” he said.
He said they were further concerned that even the case involving one of their members Billy Mayaya was not fully investigated despite that the investor who is alleged to have wanted to bribe Mayaya claims that he invested millions of Kwacha in sectors in the country.
“We also want to know how he brought the money to Malawi. He should’ve had an exchange control reference from the Reserve Bank of Malawi to bring the money. Can he provide the details of how the money was brought into the country?” he said.
In a separate interview, More said he had a strong belief in the Malawi Judiciary and that he would submit documents to Malawi’s courts at the right time.
“I think the court trial is the right way, in a serious democracy like Malawi, to prove oneself,” he said.
Eric Msikiti is a Senior Reporter/News Producer at Times Group. Though relatively young, Eric boasts years of experience in Malawi’s media industry.