The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has warned governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president (Centre)Uladi Mussa against commenting on his court case in the media to avoid prejudice.
In a statement in reaction to Mussa’s sentiments in a Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) talk show Tiuzeni Zoona aired at midday on Sunday, ACB director general Reyneck Matemba said the former Cabinet minister should instead be spending his time preparing for his defence in court.
He said Mussa, who resigned from his post as adviser on parliamentary affairs to President Peter Mutharika after the United States of America Department of State barred him from visiting that country for his alleged role in corruption, insulted ACB officers and discredited the graft-busting body’s competence.
Said Matemba: “Upon being asked about the criminal case where he is being prosecuted by the ACB, Mr. Mussa took time to insult officers of the ACB and discredited ACB’s competence for, according to him, arresting and prosecuting him when he is ‘innocent’.
“We wish to remind Mr. Mussa that employees of the ACB are public officers who, despite facing a number operational and other challenges, strive to be professional in discharging their duties.”
He said it was unfortunate that Mussa has taken his arrest personal.
Matemba said officers of the ACB, despite investigating, arresting and now prosecuting him, have nothing personal against Mussa other than fulfilling their law enforcement mandate as provided for under the Corrupt Practices Act.
He said ACB will not be intimidated or influenced by his media outbursts or utterances, promising to ensure that the case in which Mussa and four others are answering charges of corruption is prosecuted to its logical conclusion.
During the radio interview, Mussa said he had now realised that ACB has incompetent officers with no qualifications to undertake investigations.
He said: “There are problems at ACB. The chief investigator hasn’t been trained to be an investigator, he was a teacher at police and was taken when ACB started to help with investigations.
“There are problems at ACB. They go and arrest a person when they haven’t finalised investigating.”
When contacted on Monday for his comment on the ACB warning, Mussa said he was yet to see the communication; hence, would not comment.
The High Court of Malawi on October 21 this year found Mussa and four others with a case to answer in the alleged abuse of office, neglect of official duties and giving false information. The court has since set November 25 to 27 as dates when it will start hearing the case.
The court ruling came after the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on July 3 this year barred Mussa and his family from travelling to the USA due to what it termed “involvement in significant corruption”.
Reads the statement from the US Government: “The Secretary of State is designating Mr. Uladi Basikolo Mussa, the current Malawian special adviser [to the President] on parliamentary affairs and former Malawian minister of Home Affairs, due to his involvement in significant corruption.”
Mussa became the first Malawian official to be designated publicly under Section 7031(c) by the US Government, according to the US Embassy.
Subsequently, Mussa, who has maintained he was innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, resigned as special adviser on August 8 2019 through a letter to the Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).
He made the decision days before his appearance in court for a case in which the State is accusing him of misconduct on the issuance of Malawi citizenship to 50 foreigners when he served as minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security in the Joyce Banda administration between April 2012 and May 2014.
In an earlier statement, ACB said the institution received a complaint on September 25 2015 alleging that on May 14 2014, the Immigration Department granted Malawi citizenship to Rwandan nationals using a file belonging to another foreign national.
The ACB said its investigations established that citizenships were granted to ineligible people.
The findings led to the arrest of Peter Katasha (Malawian national) on February 28 2017 for allegedly presenting false information that he was related to some foreign nationals who were applying for Malawi citizenship. He was charged with uttering a false document contrary to Section 121 and Section 360 of the Penal Code.
Reads the statement: “On 6th March 2017, ACB arrested Uladi Mussa, former Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security and Mr. David H. Kwanjana [former Senior assistant chief Immigrations officer now regional Immigration officer Centre] and charged them with one count of neglect of official duties contrary to Section 121 of the Penal Code and misuse of public office contrary to Section 25B (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act.” ACB also arrested Pascal Rwasa, a Burundian national, for presenting false information that he was related to another foreign national who was applying for Malawi citizenship and also Esili Kubwimana, a Rwanda national, for giving false information to Immigration officers.