Business mogul Thom Mpinganjira, who was arrested Wednesday on suspicion that he wanted to bribe some High Court judges hearing the presidential election case, is expected to appear before Blantyre Magistrate Court today.
Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested Mpinganjira, who was dressed in a black suit and looked calm, nine days after the graft-busting body confirmed it had received a complaint from Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda that some people wanted to bribe the judges.
In view of the arrest, ACB Director, Reyneck Matemba, said Mpinganjira will be given a chance to apply for bail.
“What will happen is that from here, we will take him to court tomorrow [today] where he will be charged and also given a chance to apply for bail,” he said.
Over a week ago, Matemba told the press that two people wanted to bribe two of the five judges hearing the presidential elections case. Matemba said the two included a businessman and a senior public officer from one of the three arms of the government.
Mpinganjira’s lawyer Patrice Nkhono was not available for a comment Wednesday.
Scores of people gathered outside ACB offices in Blantyre for hours trying to see the business tycoon leave the bureau’s offices in the afternoon to Blantyre Police Station where he is being held.
Mpinganjira left with heavy police and military escort to the police station with some onlookers shouting.
He was reportedly arrested at his Blantyre home at around 8 o’clock in the morning and spent over five hours at ACB offices where security was tight with armed police officers joined by military police.
Earlier yesterday, ACB Senior Public Relations Officer, Egrita Ndala, released a statement that their investigations established that Mpinganjira is complicit to attempts to bribe the judges.
“On December 8 2019, the ACB received a complaint alleging that some people were attempting to bribe the five judges sitting at the Constitutional Court hearing the Presidential Elections Case. The ACB instituted investigations into the matter. On January 22, 2020 the ACB arrested Dr Thomson Mpinganjira in relation to the matter,” the statement reads.
The arrest happened eight days after Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) held nationwide demonstrations to press ACB to name people suspected to have offered bribes to the judges.
In view of the arrest, HRDC Chairperson, Timothy Mtambo, Wednesday said they were happy that the ACB had finally taken a step.
“We wanted the ACB to make an arrest so it means they have acted on our demands. What we can say for now is to commend Reyneck Matemba, the ACB Director, for the great job he has done. This means that for now, we put on hold the demands that we earlier pushed. However, we would like to say that we are going to closely monitor this. Arresting is not an end; let them arrest and prosecute. If we think we are suspicious of the process, we will come back to Malawians and engage them,” he said.
On Tuesday, Mtambo had given ACB 72 hours to either disclose the names of the suspects or risk action from the coalition.
Malawi Law Society had also urged ACB to speed up the matter.
High Court judges Healey Potani (chairperson of the panel), Mike Tembo, Ivy Kamanga, Redson Kapindu and Dingiswayo Madise are handling the case after Malawi Congress Party President Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima petitioned the court challenging the May 21 Tripartite Election presidential election case outcome claiming there were marred by irregularities.
The judges are expected to deliver a ruling by February 3 2020.
The parties petitioned the court after Malawi Electoral Commission declared Democratic Progressive Party, Peter Mutharika, the winner of the elections. Chakwera and Chilima were declared second and third, respectively.
- Born: 1961 in Blantyre
- Graduated in 1984 from University of Malawi.
- He is a chartered accountant.
Career: Deloitte and Touche, Blantyre Printing and Publishing Group, Mandala (now CFAO), National Bank of Malawi, Stockbrokers Malawi Limited, Malawi Stock Exchange, First Discount House, Currently Chief Executive Officer of FDH Financial Holdings Limited.
Public Positions: Escom Chairperson, Chairperson Public Service Reforms Commission.