From that 2006 afternoon drama on the tarmac of Kamuzu International Airport when former president Bakili Muluzi was unceremoniously and dramatically arrested, it has come down to this: The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is not sure it has enough evidence to conclude the most infamous corruption case of our democratic dispensation.
No evidence, the ACB says, just at the time when it has lined up witnesses to testify against Muluzi. It is still astounding that the government machinery can take Malawians for fools, citizens who gave Dr Kamuzu Banda sleepless nights in the run up to multiparty and made Bingu wa Mutharika stammer, stutter and bang tables like a deranged man.
The ACB has done its homework and prepared Malawians who have followed the K1.7 billion corruption case for the inevitable. When the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) finally withdraws the case from the High Court, Malawians, predictable as they are will shrug their shoulders and say ‘oh well, we knew that would happen.’
It is true. The air of inevitability was all over the case when a whole deputy director of the ACB dropped the bombshell that he had recused himself from the case. Sure, prosecutors in this case have come and gone but there was something telling about this particular one.
The prosecutor in question was highly emotional as he told the court that he could not go on. Here is where I remind you that Malawians watched on live television a similar display of emotion when the electoral body chief, a judge and former lawyer of repute weep and sniffle over the death of a young boy caught in the elections crossfire.
I would not go as far as calling such displays of emotion crocodile tears but they were just that. It does not take a genius to understand what was going on.
Everyone should feel angry and betrayed that it could take 10 years for the ACB to know it does not have enough evidence to prosecute Muluzi.
Malawians should question and do something about the ‘independence’ of the ACB in light of such claims.
The government’s rejection of a proposed amendment to give the ACB some measure of independence by wresting powers of appointment of the director from the executive’s clutches was also a sign that something was being cooked up.
We should all be incensed that millions have been spent on investigations, travel, allowances for prosecutors and countless taxpayer money paid trips for Muluzi to go to the hospital over the last 10 years.
We should have strongly questioned the so-called Parliament coalition between the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF). Complacency has brought the nation to this day.
At the end of the day, the K1.7 billion case is less about political party financing and more about our priorities as a nation. While the rest of the world is going north—enacting laws that actually work—Malawi is still pondering whether to root out corruption and politics and theft.
Muluzi’s guilt or innocence is no longer in question. A decade later and having wormed his way into every government since he left power, it can ably be concluded that the nation is divided on whether it wanted Muluzi behind bars or simply admonished for taking Malawians for fools all these years.
The 10 years since Muluzi was arrested on have been nothing but a waste of time, money and a very betrayal to the Malawians who waited with baited breath for the conclusion of this case. n