My Fellow Malawians,,
On 12th May this week, the decade old case of former president Bakili Muluzi, where he is accused of corruptly acquiring MK1.7 billion (about US$11 million) will come before the High Court of Malawi.
The case – to the disquiet of Malawians who would love to see justice delivered via this and many other corruption cases for the sake of Malawi’s prosperity and posterity – is not coming up for trial, but to hear arguments by Muluzi’s defence attorneys that the case be dismissed.
The current leadership of Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has for all practical purposes made it crystal clear that, for reasons they cannot share with you the tax-payers, prosecuting Muluzi is something they have no longer have the stomach for.
Citing vague “personal reasons”, the lead prosecutor, ACB deputy director Ryneck Matemba, and his two colleagues dramatically recused themselves last week.
The reason this sad development is a grave matter to Malawians is that for a decade, the ACB has vigorously pursued this case arguing that a prima facie case that Muluzi has to answer for expropriating your and our funds exists.
In pursuing this case, millions of our funds, which could have been used to buy medicines and hospital equipment, have gone down the drain.
We will not repeat the hardships Malawi went through towards the end of Muluzi’s term of office. Suffice to say that it can be reasonably argued that he used the same ill-gotten gains to try and force a third term down our throats.
We can only thank providence that Muluzi’s stinking scheme of mice and men came to naught.
Coming back to the case at hand, for the record, we want to state that we do not – even for a fraction of a second – think Counsel Gustav Kaliwo, the then ACB Director, just picked Muluzi out of malice. No.
We want to add that, even if it were the case that Counsel Gustav Kaliwo was a barefoot lawyer of questionable integrity and ethics like some characters we know, his successors: Counsel Tumalizge Ndovi, Counsel Alex Nampota or Justice Rezine Mzikamanda would have dropped the case.
They did not.
The three eminent lawyers’ continuation with this case underlines the fact Muluzi had and still has a case that needs to be pursued, a case that has compelling evidence, and a case whose logical conclusion should be arrived at through due process.
Anything short of this is totally unacceptable, and dropping the charges is an abomination. Where has all the evidence that the case was built on gone?
It was upon his belief that the evidence in this case would was enough to convict Muluzi that Counsel Alex Nampota pursued the case with such patriotic passion that the accused had to fake illness to buy time, hoping for the day when:
1. Malawi’s leadership would go to the dogs, and
2. The ACB’s directorship to a shameless, bootlicking, two-faced Judas Iscariot, just too eager to sell justice for self-preservation.
That day, Fellow Patriots, has come.
Here we are. Someone paid with our taxes, now wants to abuse their office and deny us justice in a case of abuse of office. To put it bluntly: we have here yet a new case of grand corruption begetting even grander corruption.
When one considers the politics surrounding this matter, it becomes clear that the ethos of Malawi’s governance and its purported dedication to fight corruption is something our corrupt leaders and public officers know does not exist.
Hence the MK577 billion cashgate, hence the Embassy looting, hence the squandering of donor money by civil servants without shame or regard to commitments that Malawi has made accountability-wise or to the pain that the backlash inflicts on the vulnerable among us.
Happenings that have occurred behind the scenes lend weight to our stance that the current “leadership” in Malawi leaves a lot to be desired.
The pact between President Peter Mutharika, and former President Bakili Muluzi who virtually owns the United Democratic Front (UDF) will not be judged kindly by history.
In the least, through this pact, President Peter Mutharika’s is conceding his failure to run the country; hence his supping with Muluzi – a veteran manipulator and a man with a case to answer, giving Muluzi on a silver platter the chance he always wanted. Bakili Muluzi can now finish off what he failed to complete, which is: running down Malawi from behind the bent back of a puppet Mutharika.
Having failed with late Bingu, Bakili Muluzi has now hit the jackpot with Peter Mutharika.
One does not need to look far to see that Atupele Muluzi, Bakili’s son, and Bright Msaka, also close to both Muluzis, are in the cabinet in lieu of Muluzi senior, the very accused whose case is about to fizzle away.
Sources within the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are not mincing words: Atupele and Bright Msaka have for the past year been agitating that Bakili’s corruption case should be dropped.
Whatever the reasons ACB will try to peddle to the public, fact remains that the two have succeeded. Their success started when Bakili Muluzi was used as a government envoy even while still on trial for serious corruption. Now he is going to be set free completely and the trial thrown into the wind.
Taking their cue from President Mutharika’s cluelessness in running the country, they hoodwinked him that – if he is to survive – what he needs is the support of the United Democratic Front (UDF).
Their question to Mutharika was: why should they continue propping him up while the Mutharika government is keen to prosecute their godfather?
Their proposal, which recent developments in the Muluzi case attest to, will now move to Phase II, barring surprises from Bakili Muluzi, whose behavior can never entirely be predicted.
Phase II, and this is where the meat will meet the bone, is that once Muluzi’s case is thrown out, the UDF be formally dissolved to guarantee President Mutharika and the DPP an easy electoral win in 2019.
Given Muluzi’s unreliability, whether this will transpire or not, paying the price will be our poor brothers and sisters in the villages.
All these facts reinforce our earlier concerns that Good governance and Accountability if not Democracy itself are, like Albinos in Malawi, at risk of becoming extinct under Peter Mutharika and his puppet masters.
You will all recall that Peter Mutharika and the DPP came into power with stentorian voices claiming they would:
1) Champion the independence of the ACB and,
2) Curb presidential powers to ensure that independent accountability institutions provide the necessary checks and balances essential to economic development.
Contrary to these promises, his cohorts in Parliament shot down a bill designed to make the ACB accountable to parliament and thus truly independent.
We then heard the president gloating with abandon that he will actively and aggressively fight any move to curtain the powers of the presidency, he says for the benefit of future presidents.
What do the future presidents need absolute powers for if not to loot like others before them?
And while we are asking: who other than the State President is supposed to be fighting for the benefit of the victims of the perennial looting?
The motherland is in distress. First, it was interference with the Auditor General’s office in their investigations of the MK577 billion cash gate matter, then the brutal killing of late Issa Njauju (and the subsequent lack of political will to find his killers), then the “unsolved burglary” at a German expert’s residence, and now ACB officers pulling strange stunts in this Bakili Muluzi case.
The astute have noted that in parallel, like a marauding beast, the DPP government is now close to swallowing the people’s only wealth, the Press Trust.
Given all these, only a mad man can rest easy under the delusion that Malawi is going in the right direction as a thriving democracy in the true definition of the term.
If democracy means electing inherently corrupt people so that they can impoverish us further by:
Infringing the constitution, Violating rights of individuals and threatening minorities with extinction, Impinging upon legitimate functions of the legislature and other independent institutions, and Failing to propagate the rule of law, Then ours fits the bill.
A democracy in which a leader enjoys, or thinks he or she enjoys, a “democratic” legitimacy that allows him or her to ignore, dismiss, or alter other institutions–the legislature, the courts, the constitutional limits of power–does not fit the concept of rule of law in a democratic regime.
It goes without saying that in a genuine democracy, all are equal under the law. There are no shortcuts, no mysterious recusals, and no charge-dropping charades for the powerful; as petty thieves bear the brunt of public anger via mob justice.
To conclude, if there was ever a time for you, to think again about our shared destiny it is now.
If there was ever a time for this generation to challenge President Mutharika, now that he has revealed where he really stands with respect to the fight against corruption in this MK1.7 billion case, it is now.
How can we hope to see justice in the MK577 billion cash gate IF his government is happy to let go the very architect of the mess we are in?
Knowing that everyone counts and that no idea is too small, please write:
and together, we will show impunity and puppets a red card.
We have something big on the table, but we know that we do not hold exclusive access to wisdom. Hence, want to hear your proposals, suggestions and ideas on how we can sort this mess; once and for all, using the very tools our Constitution avails to us.
Time is not on our side. We must act, and must act now!
For Reform to Transform Malawi