There are indications that government is proposing an out-of-court settlement in the case of ACB director Alex Nampota amid pressure from some donors to fill the office, which is one of the pillars of governance.
Britain has since June this year withheld its support to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in view of the absence of the director and deputy director.
This week, new British High Commissioner Michael Nevin told journalists in Malawiâ€™s capital, Lilongwe, on Wednesday that Britain will not resume financial support to the ACB until a new director is appointed. He said the organisation will need leadership.
Without the director and deputy director, effectively, the bureau is unable to fully investigate corruption allegations or conduct searches on suspects.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Anthony Kamanga, who is also Solicitor General, said in an interview on Thursday it was â€œtoo earlyâ€ to be commenting on the matter because government was exploring all avenues to clear the issue.
He said he did not want to undermine the process by commenting on the issue now; arguing there was need to give discussions a chance.
Samuel Tembenu, lawyer representing Nampota, said on Thursday, there was no information yet on the matter for the media.
Barely weeks after taking over from the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, the Joyce Banda administration pressurised Nampota to resign and handover office to the most senior officer at the bureau, but the ACB boss challenged the call and went on to obtain a court order to ensure his salaries and other benefits were not tampered with.
Nampota was later on June 28 arrested on charges of abuse of office when it was alleged he claimed about K1 million (about $3 333) in allowances for a foreign study trip he allegedly never undertook.
It, however, transpired later that he undertook the trip, but only that it was earlier postponed due to the ban of foreign trips by the Mutharika administration to save foreign exchange.
It is on record that Nampota, after the trip was postponed, refunded the money, but the ACB finance department advised him to keep the money because the trip was not cancelled, but postponed; hence, he was going to go anyway.
Nampota is not reporting for duties following the disagreement. On the other hand, the Public Appointments and Declaration of Assets Committee of Parliament rejected the appointment of the bureauâ€™s assistant director, Victor Banda, as deputy director, leaving the bureau with no head.
This has led to the paralysis of operations, as was confirmed earlier by the bureauâ€™s spokesperson Egrita Ndala that operations requiring authority of director or his deputy were being affected.
According to sources at ACB, it also came to the knowledge of senior government officers agitating for Nampotaâ€™s removal that the ACB boss had, in fact, signed another three-year contract during Mutharikaâ€™s administration running up to 2014.
Government has two choices on this; either to prematurely terminate the contract and pay off Nampota salaries and all other benefits for the remaining years of his contract or retain him up to 2014.
Meanwhile, Nampota, who is technically and legally still ACB director despite not reporting for work, is still getting his salary and all other benefits.