By Feston Malekezo & Rebecca Chimjeka:
Civil society organisation, Alliance Against Serious and Organised Corruption, has asked the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to appoint an external monitor to help investigate the alleged attempt by some individuals to bribe judges who are handling the presidential election case.
Chief Justice, Andrew Nyirenda, lodged the complaint from the five-member panel of judges, who are handling the case, to the graft-busting body late last month.
A letter from the alliance’s Chairperson, Moses Mkandawire, dated January 13 2020, asks ACB to deal with the allegations of bribery attempts effectively and transparently.
“…We call on the ACB to appoint an external monitor to this process from outside Malawi, who can also act also a liaison to civil society organisations and bolster trust with the general public. We are ready to recommend the names of reputable individuals from within Southern Africa to fulfill such as a role and seek to make this appointment in collaboration,” the letter reads.
Mkandawire said they were committed to supporting ACB in bringing a speedy, effective and just resolution to this matter.
He said it was important that the public accepts that the court case has been carried out fairly and free of political interference.
The Alliance has since welcomed Chief Justice’s action of bringing the issue to ACB.
“We note with concern allegations of attempted bribery of the judges of the Constitutional Court who are currently deliberating the outcome of the presidential elections case. This represents not only a serious allegation of corruption, but also an attempt to undermine our judicial and electoral processes,” the letter reads.
Copies of the letter have been sent to Speaker of National Assembly and Chief Justice.
Malawi Law Society (MLS) also made similar calls urging ACB ‘to execute its statutory mandate promptly’ by making arrests.’
The Alliance is a civil society partnership between the Church and Society Programme of CCAP Synod of Livingstonia, Youth and Society, MLS and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation.
Judges Healey Potani, Ivy Kamanga, Mike Tembo, Dingiswayo Madise and Redson Kapindu are expected to deliver a verdict within 45 days from December 21 2019 when all parties finished making their submissions.
Malawi Congress Party leader Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima petitioned the court seeking nullification of the presidential election results saying they were marred by irregularities.
Meanwhile, ACB Director, Rayneck Matemba, has warned the body’s member of staff that starting from January 13 2020 they should leave ACB premises by 5:30pm.
Matemba said receiving threats at ACB has become a daily occurrence.
“What I issued yesterday is a precautionary measure on our part in view of the current atmosphere. Threats to us come in different forms and packages, others are even sugar-coated to give a semblance of an advice or a friendly warning, but we are able to know that this is a threat,”Matemba said.
He said focus has moved from Malawi Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court to the ACB; hence the body cannot pretend that all is well.
ACB says in the event that it becomes extremely necessary for an officer to remain in office and work beyond 5:30 pm, permission should be sought from superiors at the bureau.