Minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa has said he will not resign from his Cabinet post despite pressure from civil society groups and anti-corruption campaigners.
The sentiments follow a letter of demand dated January 18 from the Youth and Society (YAS) for the Lands Minister to resign within seven days following his arrest on corruption allegations.
Through its executive director Charles Kajoloweka, YAS said someone facing “serious charges which strike at the very route of integrity with the possibility of a conviction” cannot hold a Cabinet post.
Reads the letter in part: “It is no less a pity that even the appointing authority is complicit in your scandal by procrastinating on a rather obvious matter, on the fair benefit of doubt that the appointing authority still values integrity.
“We believe that your resignation is the first significant step in ensuring justice and accountability in this corruption case, and in curing a climate of impunity in your ministry.”
YAS said if Msukwa does not resign within seven days, the governance institution will use legal means to force him out of office.
But in an interview yesterday, Msukwa put his foot down, saying he will not resign. The embattled minister said although he is yet to get the YAS letter, his take on the matter is that he is not yet on trial for him to step aside.
He said: “This means these people don’t understand the law. There is a court order which is in effect. I’m not on trial yet, so why should someone be calling for my resignation when I‘m not on trial?”
Msukwa said YAS must learn to respect the courts and their processes.
“This shows ignorance of the law,” he said.
But Kajoloweka said it has become morally untenable for Msukwa to continue serving as Minister of Lands because of his arrest based on “opprobrious rent-seeking behaviour of corruptly using your public office as is alleged”.
Msukwa was arrested on December 31 2021 by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for allegedly obtaining bribes in form of K15 million, a Mercedes- Benz and K4 million from Zuneth Sattar mostly through Ashok Nair to intervene in a land-related matter in Area 46 Lilongwe and Chipoka in Salima.
Meanwhile, the State House says President Lazarus Chakwera will make his mind known on Msukwa at an appropriate time.
In a written response yesterday, State House press secretary Anthony Kasunda said the President is still evaluating the situation surrounding his minister.
“His Excellency is constantly evaluating his ministers to correct any emerging instances of compromise. And when taking the necessary corrective measures, the President continues to fulfil his promise of not shielding anyone from the law.
“The anti-corruption agenda that agencies like the ACB are pursuing is in fact President Chakwera’s agenda,” he said