Four years after Escom blocked ACB from probing a K1.4 billion procurement scam at the power utility, the bureau has now concluded its investigations and wants the suspects prosecuted.
An internal memo Weekend Nation has seen, dated July 10 2019, from an unidentified investigator to the Anti-Corruption
Reyneck Matemba shows that the graft-busting body has concluded investigations.
And on March 26 2020, Matemba approved a request from the investigator to proceed with prosecution of the suspects.
The memo, titled ‘Allegation that between 2015/2016 Escom made procurement worth K1.4 billion without complying with procurement procedures’, lists the suspects, who include Jean Chifundo Mathanga and Andrew Kandulu to be prosecuted for neglect of official duty under Section 121 of the Penal Code.
Mathanga, a commissioner of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), was Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) board chairperson at the time. ACB also wants Mathanga prosecuted for giving false information, contrary to Section 14 (a) of Corrupt Practices Act (CPA).
Andrew Kandulu is not the same person as John Kandulu who was CEO at the power utility at the time.
Other people ACB wants prosecuted are Fanuel Nkhono, Emilius Kandapo, John Santana and Lyton Moyo. They are to be prosecuted under Section 63(1) as read with Section 63(2) of the Public Procurement Act, according to the memo.
The memo further states that the four are also to be prosecuted under Section 25B (1) of CPA.
But, in an interview on Thursday, Matemba could neither confirm nor deny the contents of the memo, arguing that such correspondences are internal processes at the bureau, and not for public consumption.
“The public is interested in actions and not in what is happening or what we are doing internally in the ACB,” he said.
Matemba also said ACB is yet to write the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), to seek authorisation to prosecute the suspects as required by law. He could not also say why ACB has not yet written the DPP.
According to the memo, ACB’s legal opinion to prosecute the suspects is, among others, based on witness statements as well as documents from witnesses secured when taking the statements.
“My legal opinion … shows that the procurement procedures were not followed when purchasing the goods. Analyse documents and witness statements included in the docket which show that there was indeed misprocurement,” reads part of the memo which was attached to a 20-page, legal opinion.
Matemba said ACB has not yet engaged DPP to seek authorisation to prosecute the six people. He did not explain why.
In an earlier interview, ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala confirmed to our sister newspaper The Nation that they sent a team to investigate the issue at Escom after seeing merit in a complaint, and that when the investigators went to Escom on September 28 2016, they were sent back.
The probe followed a complaint ACB received on September 21 2016 from an informant that there was political interference in the manner the contracts as well as payment to suppliers of over K4 billion was made.
The complaint added that goods were supplied without proper documentation and that procedures were not followed, a development that led to the resignation of Escom director of finance Betty Mahuka.
Ndala also confirmed, in an earlier interview, that ACB was conducting investigations at Escom.
But she said the bureau could not discuss the scope of the investigation to avoid prejudicing the process as investigations were ongoing.