The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has backtracked on its highly hyped plans to interview former president Peter Mutharika on the alleged abuse of his duty-free benefits after he opted to remain silent.
In an interview on Friday, ACB director general (DG) Martha Chizuma said the bureau was now pursuing other legal means that would make the former president provide his side of the story.
She said that currently the bureau was awaiting a response from Mutharika after writing him to respond to a set of issues.
Chizuma said: “We are no longer pursuing the interview because the former president has been exercising his right to remain silent so we are using other legal means which
are already in process.”She said the bureau gave Mutharika 21 days to respond to some of the issues they wrote him on.
The ACB chief said the 21-day timeframe would end this week and that from there the bureau will decide on how to proceed.
In July this year, the bureau indicated that i t would interview Mutharika on the allegations of abuse of his taxpayer identification number following its investigations in the importation of cement.
But Chizuma on Friday said the bureau cannot explain some of the issues to the public due to the nature of the investigations.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Mutharika’s lawyer Samuel Tembenu said they were communicated to by the ACB that the former president would no longer be interviewed.
He said his client would respond to the ACB in due course.
Tembenu said: “Yes, I am aware that the ACB has decided not to pursue the interview and he [Mutharika] will respond to them in due course.”
In two separate statements on July 16 and 20, the ACB said their planned caution interview with the former president was a normal and legal process which started in 2020.
But Mutharika, who is president of the former governing Democratic Progressive Party described the planned ACB interview as political witch-hunt.
The cement saga and alleged abuse of Mutharika’s taxpayer identification number led to the arrest of his personal bodyguard Norman Chisale and former chief of staff Peter Mukhito.
Besides the two aides, others arrested in connection with the scandal included former Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) deputy commissioner general Roza Mbilizi and a Lilongwe-based Asian businessperson Ahmed Chunara