Reyneck Matemba has had enough. Enough of this country failing to comprehend the scale of his mammoth job to fight corruption; enough of the crooks getting away with murder; And, surely, enough of a Judiciary impeding him instead of helping his case.
“I am speechless and lost for words,” the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general said on Thursday.
After enduring taunts that he leads a toothless political bulldog that only goes after the small fish, or the opposition, he thought he had netted the plump one and would pacify the public after arresting the chief executive officer of the biggest Malawian-owned bank for allegedly attempting to bribe Constitutional Court judges hearing the presidential election case.
And he thought he was going to be finally helped by the Judiciary in whose interest—one would argue thanks to a complaint by the head of the Judiciary itself—thought he was working.
On Thursday morning, Matemba came guns blazing, like anything we have ever heard or seen from anyone who has ever held his post or any government post for that matter. He just had to.
His words carried venom, but they had truth in every measure.
Just, indeed, what on earth had just happened?
What kind of mafia State are we living in, where the ACB would arrest a suspect, as high-profile as Thom Mpinganjira is, with a valid warrant of arrest obtained from a legally instituted magistrate’s court only for another magistrate, of equally lower rank and jurisdiction, to quash that same warrant of arrest?
That warrant, by the way, was quashed in spite of the fact that the next morning Mpinganjira was due to appear before a court of law, where himself or his lawyers could have made any arguments against the arrest.
Just what kind of justice –forgive my ignorance—is this?
And forget the fact that magistrate, Ben Chitsakamile, granted the order quashing the earlier warrant of arrest at midnight, just how do you explain the fact that the good magistrate tolerated a hearing and made a decision without the other party to the case—ACB— being heard?
What kind of kangaroo court was happening there in Zomba? And yes, why couldn’t the good now (in)famous magistrate ask himself: why are these folks travelling all the way to Zomba when they have so many magistrates in Blantyre (we can count them from toe to toe), so many High Court judges, Supreme Court judges etc?
What kind of court could be so naïve to believe that such judicial conduct wouldn’t have warranted questions in such a polarised political situation?
In the very least, it could’ve occurred to all and sundry that such court intervention would likely attract accusations of judiciary pandering to the rich. If anyone is in doubt, Mpinganjira is one of the richest Malawians alive—owns the third largest bank in the country; and surely a member of our elite by every description.
On the other hand, the cells Matemba was condemning him to sleep in, albeit with valid warrant of arrest, are full of poor Malawians. Some of the occupants are languishing in disease without a chance for bail, for simply stealing a chicken or bicycle. Do we have justice in the country or a mockery version of it?
Yes, the courts are the learned and we are the lay men and women, but we must agree with Matemba, another learned man, that this is not just miscarriage of justice, this is abuse of powers of the judiciary, period!
And yes, it’s high time we spoke about questionable judicial orders. In a country where corruption is so endemic, nobody should be scared cow and that includes the judiciary.
The judiciary, while it has saved our constitution on a number of times, while it has inspired confidence with the handling of some cases including the current elections dispute, is full of so many rotten apples that often dish out very funny, read laughable, orders.
Think of the case where one judge made a ruling in case he never heard. Think of the case Matemba is referring to where the judiciary even stopped ACB from investigating an individual.
Think of a rolling that granted bail to a powerful and connected convict. Think about these issues. We need to clean up our country, but we can’t do so with a judiciary that acts like a mafia.