Vice-President Saulos Chilima has dispelled reports linking him to businessman Zuneth Sattar’s alleged corrupt dealings.
The development comes after the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) included the Vice President’s name in the Sattar investigations report it submitted to President Lazarus Chakwera this week.
Chilima is alleged to be among 84 public and private sector officials named as beneficiaries of Sattar’s loot in the ACB report, which director-general Martha Chizuma also submitted to Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara and Chief Justice Rizine Mzikamanda.
The development forced Chakwera to announce that he would excuse Chilima from delegated duties while waiting for the bureau to substantiate its allegations against him.
In a statement released Thursday, which Director of Communications in the Vice President’s Office Pilirani Phiri signed, Chilima says he finds the manner in which the ACB has proceeded with its investigations very troubling for the fact it has failed to provide any particulars or evidence in support of the crime.
“The State Vice President further finds it curious that, to date, the bureau has not confronted him with the said allegations of criminal conduct so that he has the opportunity of making representations on the same,” the statement reads.
He further says, while the bureau’s efforts to fight corruption deserve the unwavering support of all well-meaning Malawians, the fight must always be waged within the confines of the law and not be abused for political or other objectives.
“One requirement of the law is that every person must be presumed to be innocent until a competent court of law finds them guilty, and further that accusations of criminality should be made within the space of judicial proceedings,” he said.
The Vice President explains that his duty in the public service is to serve the interests of Malawians and that he has never been involved in any perverted or criminal scheme as suggested by the bureau.
“The State Vice President remains confident that any due process initiated to test the scurrilous allegations now made against him would vindicate the hope that Malawians placed in him and [he] look[s] forward to that occasion,” he says.
In his national address on Tuesday, Chakwera claimed that Chilima was among 13 public officers the bureau had concluded its investigations on, although it did not produce a report of its findings on what these individuals did.
Apart from Chilima, ACB also named suspended State House Chief of Staff Prince Kapondamgaga, Malawi Police Service former inspector general George Kainja and Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority suspended chairperson John Suzi Banda as being among the alleged beneficiaries of Sattar’s pulse.
ACB investigators also alleged that there are 53 public officers and 31 individuals from the public sector who know something about the issue.