The State has charged former minister of Irrigation and Water Development Charles Mchacha with four counts, including inducing public officers to corruptly perform duties to award him a plot in Kanjedza Forest, Blantyre.
Ministry of Defence Principal Secretary Bright Kumwembe, who was also arrested in connection with the former minister’s alleged crime, is facing two counts of neglect of duty and giving false information.
The two were arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) amid reports that Mchacha, then serving as deputy minister of Homeland Security in the administration of president Peter Mutharika, had allegedly acquired land dubiously in Kanjedza Forest.
In the first count, Mchacha is alleged to have used his influence as deputy minister of Homeland Security in April 2019 to induce a public officer to open a file to process lease of the said land under his daughter’s name, Caroline Mchacha, on plot number LW 1366 belonging to Department of Forestry.
The second count states that in April 2019, Mchacha allegedly induced one Alfred Kamphasa to draw a sketch map for the said land without following procedures while the third count states that Mchacha in June 2020 induced Pita Chikweni and Kilian Palika to process lease of the said land in his name after Ministry of Lands refused to process the same under his daughter’s name.
In the fourth count, the former minister is accused of using insulting words against Nation Publications Limited journalist Bobby Kabango who was investigating a story relating to Mchacha’s acquisition of the plot.
In the count of giving false information, Kumwembe is alleged to have given false information to the ACB during investigations of the case when he told the bureau that the Department of Forestry had given consent to lease the land to Mchacha.
Kumwembe is also alleged to have neglected his duty by certifying to the chief secretary (now Secretary to the President and Cabinet) that Mchacha had fulfilled all requirements concerning application of land.
Principal resident magistrate Viva Nyimba has since released the two suspects on bail after their
lawyer Chancy Gondwe applied for bail on the basis that the ACB was not ready to prosecute the matter as it was yet to get consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Nyimba granted bail on condition that each suspect made a K500 000 cash bond, produce one surety bonded at K500 000 non-cash, report to ACB fortnightly on Friday, surrender travel documents and should not interfere with State witnesses. The matter has since been adjourned to January 6 2021.