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UTM ‘shocked’ by Lazarus Chakwera action

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Ernest Thindwa

By Mandy Pondani & Serah Chilora

UTM has said it is shocked and saddened by President Lazarus Chakwera’s decision to stop delegating duties to Vice- President Saulos Chilima, who is the leader of the party.

Chakwera announced on Tuesday, after receiving a report from Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director-General Martha Chizuma, that he had stopped delegating duties to Chilima until after the graft-busting body determines its next course of action in the United Kingdom-based businessman Zuneth Sattar’s alleged corrupt dealings probe.

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In a statement Wednesday, UTM publicity secretary Frank Mwenifumbo said they continue to render unwavering support to their leader until the matter comes to a logical conclusion.

“…As a party that has absolute belief and trust in Malawi’s justice system, we have absolute confidence that justice will prevail in the end,” the statement reads.

The party adds that it will not be making any comments on the development and has hailed Chilima for the role he played in campaigning for the Tonse Alliance administration.

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Political analyst Ernest Thindwa has, however, said Chilima’s political career has taken a challenging turn following the development since he was an ardent campaigner against corruption ahead of the May 21 2019 and June 23 2020 presidential elections.

Thindwa opined, in an interview yesterday, that, for objective Malawians, it will be difficult to give him the support that he might need.

“The reaction from UTM is not surprising because most of our political parties are premised on personalities. Chilima is UTM and UTM is Chilima but, to be honest, he has a challenging political career ahead. Being a corruption suspect, Malawians cannot trust him,” he said.

Law Professor Garton Kamchedzera called on Chilima to resign, saying he has lost public confidence and trust.

“If he doesn’t resign, then Parliament might want to impeach him. I don’t see why he should hang on to public office…but since this is Malawi I wouldn’t be surprised if he went to court,” Kamchedzera said.

In his address on Tuesday, Chakwera said Chilima is among the 13 public officers who have been extensively investigated by the ACB.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa has commended Chakwera for what he described as rising to the occasion and making tough Executive decisions on the report on corruption allegations involving businessman Sattar.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Nankhumwa said the moves by Chakwera are the right steps in the fight against corruption.

“This is a commendable development because one of the best ways to [sic] fighting corruption is strengthening the legal environment as well as creating foolproof systems so that they are not easily infiltrated by corrupt minds or those who do not mean well for our country. These are obviously the right steps Mr President and what Malawians have been expecting in as far as the fight against corruption is concerned,” he said.

Nankhumwa, however, expressed disappointment with Chakwera for showing his anger towards Chizuma in how she handled the report by giving it to the Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara and Chief Justice Rizine Mzikamanda.

“As the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, I would like to commend the bureau for following the procedures as guided by the law in handling this matter and I urge Ms Martha Chizuma not to be cowed by any ranting or anger from the highest office,” the statement reads.

Tonse Alliance Party Presidents spokesperson Kamuzu Chibambo said he would be able to comment on Chilima’s issue on Friday, hinting that the leaders might have a meeting in between..

“Between now and Friday, something will have happened, in terms of meeting, but I can only confirm by tomorrow,” he said.

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