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Selective justice stirs emotional parliamentary debate

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Members of Parliament (MPs) on the opposition side of Parliament on Friday ganged up to accuse Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu, of presiding over selective justice in the country.

Lawmaker for Lilongwe Msozi South Vitus Dzoole Mwale opened the can of worms when he asked Tembenu to provide information on what government is doing to tame rampant corruption in the country.

Dzoole Mwale wanted to know reasons behind what he said are cases of selective justice on cabinet ministers who are suspected to be mentioned in the K236 billion cashgate of Bingu wa Mutharika era, former president Bakili Muluzi’s K1.7 billion corruption case and former Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda’s issue.

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“Instead of hearing about the case of the former president, what we are hearing is a dubious relationship between UDF and the DPP. Tell us the truth,” Mwale said.

But the response that Tembenu provided did not amuse some opposition block MPs including Lilongwe Mapuyu South legislator Joseph Njovuyalema, Dowa West lawmaker Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi, People’s Party Leader in the House, Uladi Mussa and Dzoole Mwale himself.

Tembenu said some of the cases that Mwale mentioned are in court and appropriate government agencies are handling some and it would not be proper for him to comment on them, in line with Standing Order 192.

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He also said some of the areas that Dzoole has touched on in his question will be covered in his ministerial report on corruption.

“Am I aware of selective justice? I am not aware because the ministry that I head is not involved in selective justice,” Tembenu said.

Mussa asked Tembenu if he is aware that had it been that Chaponda was Uladi Mussa or Lazarus Chakwera, he would have been arrested by now.

He also asked if Tembenu knows that holding a lot of forex in the house as Chaponda did is an offence.

The minister responded by saying he is not aware that the situation of Chaponda would lead to the arrest of either Mussa or Chakwera but said he is aware that holding a lot of forex is an offence.

Kusamba Dzonzi said in his address President Peter Mutharika talked about his government’s commitment to stamp out corruption but at the same time he conceded that out of 200 corruption cases, only 15 have been completed.

“What should we do with the Anti-Corruption Bureau to get value for our money?” Kusamba Dzonzi queried.

Njovuyalema told Tembenu to know that he is the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for all Malawians and not for selected few.

“If he cannot represent all Malawians then he can just resign,” Njovuyalema said.

When Njovuyalema insisted that the country needed to get information on selective justice from Tembenu, his microphone got switched off.

Deputy Government Chief Whip Grace Chiumia asked the First Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka Chilenje to curtail debate on the question and allow government business to continue.

Chilenje, who had been pleading with the lawmakers to avoid being emotional, stopped the debate amidst noise and some MPs continued commenting on President Peter Mutarika’s State of the Nation Address.

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