Malawi Law Society (MLS) has questioned the independence of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in prosecuting the K1.7 billion corruption case involving former president Bakili Muluzi and his then personal assistant Lyness Violet Whiskey.
In a statement co-signed by its president John Suzi-Banda and honorary secretary Khumbo Soko yesterday, MLS said it sees the ACB’s operational independence as being compromised.
While expressing disappointment that of late there has been no appreciable zeal on the part of the State to ensure that the case is prosecuted to its logical conclusion, the Law Society observed that ACB’s decisions on whether to further prosecute the matter was no longer being guided by the clarity of the available evidence, but “some other irrelevant matters” that should ordinarily have no bearing on the case.
MLS sentiments have come against the background of ACB seeking direction in the matter.
The Law Society said if indeed the case is that ACB isfailing to prosecute the matter with necessary seriousness because of irrelevant considerations, the development raises serious questions about its credibility.
Reads the statement in part: “We call upon the bureau to boldly explain itself to the people of Malawi why it is failing to prosecute such a high-profile matter with the seriousness and professionalism expected of such an institution.
“Criminal prosecutions are conducted on behalf of the people of Malawi and it is imperative that the Bureau should not take the public for granted. It should, in good faith, explain its actions and/or inactions clearly to the public.”
While accepting that it is obviously not in its place to assert that there is enough evidence to prosecute the two, MLS said the legitimate interest of Malawians is the competent and diligent prosecution of the case and that the integrity of the process is safeguarded by the relevant officers.
The society has since called upon ACB to either “competently and diligently” prosecute the matter or hand over to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
This week, Chancellor College associate professor of law, Edge Kanyongolo, told The Nation that the case has progressed “so slowly” that it undermines the confidence of the public in the efficiency and effectiveness of the country’s justice system as it means both the State and the accused have been denied justice because justice delayed is justice denied.
The K1.7 billion Muluzi and Whiskey case, dating back to 2006, has stagnated due to suspensions and adjournments sometimes attributed to the former president’s illness, countless objections from the defence team bordering on judicial review applications, instabilities in the prosecution team and requests for reviews of the case by the ACB.
The prosecution, The Nation understands, has up to today to tell the court what its position is regarding the case. n