The recusal by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) deputy director Reyneck Matemba from the K1.7 billion corruption case involving former president Bakili Muluzi and his co-accused Lyness Wiskey is a backstab on the country’s fight against corruption. It does not matter whether or not Matemba has acted within the precincts of the law. The fact of the matter is that the country’s fight against corruption has taken a huge leap backwards.
The reasons Matemba has given for recusing himself from the case don’t make sense. He cannot site personal reasons for dropping out of the case after the bureau has spent so many months working on it. Perhaps, it would have made sense if he had made known those personal reasons for people to appreciate them otherwise many will conclude that he is just pulling wool over their eyes. And what a waste of taxpayers’ money after government has spent hundreds of millions of kwacha organising witnesses and chasing the paper trail for the case in and outside the country!
For sometime now, Matemba has been the real face of the bureau. But with his recusal from this case, he has lost the shine and cutting edge that has defined him as a sharp shooter.
The image of the bureau has also taken a tumble on this case. The development is proof beyond reasonable doubt that ACB is a toothless entity and a waste of taxpayers’ money. It only specialises on a certain category of cases that are apolitical in nature while some are too hot for it to handle.
As some people have rightly wondered, why should the bureau still exist if it is choosy in the cases it can prosecute?
Perhaps to save his professional integrity as well as that of the bureau Matemba should have resigned from his position when he saw that the powers that be want to use him as a sacrificial lamb. He should have been a hero.
We all know why he has recused himself from the case. He has been under pressure to drop the case because it involves a political figure that is a bedfellow of the party in power. I don’t have to volunteer names of people who must have been prodding on him to drop the case.
In the first place, it was not making sense that the government would prosecute Muluzi whose United Democratic Front (UDF) is in a coalition with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led government in and outside it.
The scheme is very clear. The DPP-led government wants to wash its hands clean in this case. Start the case and then bring total disarray into it midway by exerting pressure on the lead prosecution to drop it. The prosecution would then be forced to drop out of it. On its part, the defence would start agitating for the discharge of its client. In the end, the DPP-led government would then say our hands are clean; it is not because of us that prosecution has halted.
Meanwhile, ACB will say the case will be reviewed. But as we all know, all this is just buying time.
The bigger picture is that DPP is focusing its attention on the 2019 elections. Its attention is now the votes that UDF can bring to it in the next elections if kept in government.
On the other hand, Muluzi will also as much as possible keep close to DPP if only because he has something to benefit from it as well. This is a win-win situation for both teams. Of course the loser is the taxpayer whose millions have been washed down the gutter pursuing the case and the lost fight against corruption.
But if I were Muluzi, unless I know I have skeletons in the closet, I would have let the wheels of justice roll on to their logical conclusion on this case. Then I would live with a free conscience ever after.
As for now the bold writing on the wall is that this is a hopeless case. n