The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has dismissed criticism from some civil society organisations (CSOs) that it presented a weaker case against former Cabinet minister George Chaponda and businessperson Rashid Tayub; hence, their acquittal.
ACB director general Reyneck Matemba expressed the sentiments in reaction to a statement by three CSOs—Youth and Society (YAS), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep)—condemning the ACB and the court for alleged institutional incompetence in the fight against corruption.
In an interview yesterday, Matemba said the CSOs were commenting from an uninformed point of view on the court ruling in favour of Chaponda, a former minister of Agricuture, Irrigation and Water Development, and Tayub.
He said ACB and other agencies should be left to work without interference as it was the only institution capable of professionally pursuing anti-corruption matters in the country.
Said Matemba: “That is an insult to us for somebody to say we presented a weaker case against Chaponda. Very few people can manage the job we are doing. We do not even enjoy it. Our lifestyle changed as we cannot associate and socialise with our friends as we used to do because of this case.
“What they [CSOs] are saying is nonsense and rubbish. They should appreciate what we are doing and they should stop putting unnecessary pressure on us to allow us work without interference from any quarter.”
On Friday, Zomba chief resident magistrate Paul Chiotcha acquitted the two. Chaponda was ananswering three charges of giving false information to ACB, influencing a public officer to misuse his position and possession of foreign currency while Tayub was answering the charge of persuading a public officer to misuse his position. They both denied the charges.
But reacting to the ruling, YAS executive director Charles Kajoloweka
said by setting Chaponda free, the ACB and the court failed their work as institutions mandated to uphold principles of accountability and transparency.
He said: “We call upon ACB to drop its declaration of defeat and genuinely side with the public interest by re-embarking on this matter until real justice should be obtained. The ACB should contest this court outcome and take further necessary steps in seeking recourse on this accountability matter of national importance.”
But Matemba challenged the critics to provide the evidence in their possession, saying: “The evidence that we presented is what we had.”
However, Kajoloweka maintained there was incompetence in the handling of the case.
Matemba said ACB will review the case and the judgement to decide the way forward.
Chaponda, who is also governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president for the Southern Region, was arrested on July 9 last year alongside Tayub and Grace Mijiga Mhango, a businesswoman and also chairperson of Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi.
In January, President Peter Mutharika ordered an investigation into $34.5 million maize order from Zambia after a Zambian opposition leader said he had seen documents showing Malawi had been charged $345 per tonne instead of $245 a tonne.