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Peter Mutharika speaks on bribery attempts

SIGNED THE STATEMENT—Tembenu

President Peter Mutharika Saturday broke the silence and commented on reports that some unscrupulous Malawians attempted to bribe the five judges who were hearing the presidential election results case and are currently writing their judgement.

Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda in November last year reported to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) that a top government official and a senior person in the private sector was offering money to the judges in an attempt to influence them to decide the presidential election case in favour of a particular party in the case.

Writing through his lawyers, among them former cabinet minister Samuel Tembenu, Mutharika who is the first respondent in the case has said he is dismayed by the attempted efforts to bribe the judges.

He said as custodian of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, he believes that the Judiciary must be allowed to decide cases without pressure, inducements or any extraneous factors.

“…our client wishes to place on record that he is completely dismayed by the said alleged efforts at bribing the honourable judges…our client believes that the court must decide the case purely based on the facts properly adduced before it and the applicable laws,” the communication reads in part.

Mutharika has since condemned the attempted bribery and has thus asked the general public to refrain from any actions that would compromise the independence and integrity of the judiciary in any case before it.

His condemnation comes four days after the ACB arrested business magnate Thom Mpinganjira in connection with the bribery reports, but was later released around just past midnight on Wednesday under what others have called controversial legal circumstances.

It is reported that Mpinganjira with other officials wanted the judgement skewed towards Mutharika, an allegation which Tembenu has denied.

“I am not aware of that, what we are saying now is what our client has instructed us to tell the nation. We only take instructions from our client,” he said on behalf of his team, which comprises Frank Mbeta, David Kanyenda and Charles Mhango among others.

Mutharika’s statement however has not touched on Mpinganjira’s arrest and the ACB’s move on the matter, a development which political commentator Ernest Thindwa has said makes the President’s sentiments questionable.

He said what matters at this point, is for authorities to ensure that the ACB and police are working without any impediment in enforcing the law.

“It raises questions really, I expected and I know the nation expected that the happenings at the ACB would have been the focus of the communication and that the suspects who were attempting to bribe the judges should face the long arm of the law. But that is not coming from the President. This defeats the whole appeal he is making to judges,” Thindwa said.

He added: “This is a mockery to Malawians, because what happened to Mpinganjira is unprecedented and is challenging to law enforcing agents of the land, and the president can’t afford to pay a blind eye to that.”

Meanwhile, the ACB has asked for bail conditions on Mpinganjira as the High Court in Blantyre reviews the release order which was granted at midnight by Magistrate Benedicto Chitsakamile in Zomba.

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