Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee has expressed reservations on the prolonged prosecution of former president Bakili Muluzi’s K1.7 billion alleged corruption case and asked the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to decide the way forward to save resources.
The committee’s chairperson Yusuf Nthenda expressed the sentiments in reaction to a report Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe submitted to the committee highlighting progress made in prosecuting Muluzi in the case where he is accused of diverting donor funds.
In an interview yesterday, the chairperson acknowledged receipt of the written report from the AG to the committee.
Nthenda, who is Mulanje West member of Parliament (MP) affiliated to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said the prosecuting agencies were still waiting for a determination of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal on some issues, including how the case should proceed.
He said the delay in concluding Muluzi’s case was an unfortunate situation because taxpayers continue to lose resources each passing year; hence, the need to either discontinue or conclude it.
Said Nthenda: “The report from the AG is indicating that there are some issues which were referred to the Supreme Court. And the court has not responded to the AG.
“Since 2009, resources have been allocated to the case. We cannot really give the direction on how the court should proceed with the case, but we would want the matter to reach its logical conclusion.
“If the case is not prosecutable, they [prosecuting agencies] should just withdraw it, so that resources should be allocated to other issues.”
In a written response to our questionnaire yesterday, ACB director general Reyneck Matemba said he does not want to continue commenting on the matter concerning Muluzi’s case because he already made his position clear that the case was not prosecutable.
He said: “I gave my views to the appropriate committee of Parliament, the Legal Affairs Committee. You may get in touch with the committee.”
Prior to the passing of the 2020/21 National Budget, Matemba told the Legal Affairs cluster committee of Parliament that Muluzi’s case could not be prosecuted.
In a separate interview yesterday, private practice lawyer Khumbo Bonzoe Soko said there were two options which could be undertaken in the process of discontinuing the case.
He said the first option was for the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to enter a discontinuance with withdrawal of the indictment, with the liberty to restore charges, as the other option.
Muluzi and his former personal secretary Lyness Whiskey were arrested in 2006 for allegedly stealing K1.7 billion ($12 million) funds which came to Malawi as aid from Taiwan, Morocco and Libya.
Muluzi allegedly committed the offence when he was serving as the country’s president between 1994 and 2004.
The trial started in 2009, but the case faced several adjournments mostly due to Muluzi’s poor health as he sought medical treatment in the United Kingdom and South Africa.