President Lazarus Chakwera in his address to the nation last night warned people that stole public funds that should avoid seeking public sympathy but return what they stole as the law is going to take its course on them.
Chakwera who assumed power following the victory in June 23 fresh presidential election under the Tonse Alliance block, said his government would not protect anyone.
In the address monitored on Zodiak Broadcasting Station, the President referred to the recent Auditor’s General’s report in demonstrating that the culture of corruption has permeated every structure in government.
Chakwera, who ordered that vehicles on his convoy be reduced to not more than 10 as a measure to save resources, said it would be up to the courts to exercise leniency on people who would not waste their time by “confessing” their sins and return what they stole.
The President’s remarks came soon after the former president Peter Mutharika issued a public statement on Friday, distancing himself from the cement deal in which cement worth K5 billion was imported into the country using his duty-free status.
“We have no control over the courts. It will be up to the courts how they handle cases of individuals that return stolen property. But we’ll not sympathise with people that stole from the public purse.
“I have asked the Minister of Justice [Titus Mvalo] how we should handle these issues. Some people that were supposed to protect the public purse are also involved in these issues.
“Other people think we choose who to arrest; that’s not our style. We’ll allow the responsible authorities to do their job. State agents would operate depending on what evidence they have, but we’ll not push them to do something,” Chakwera said.
He said the plunder under the Democratic Progressive Party administration was pervasive reaching into over a trillion kwacha, but asked Malawians to be calm as the Tonse Alliance administrations drains the swamp. “It’s not a one-day thing, we appeal to those with information to help us, we may have culprits, but the courts will require evidence to rely on,” Chakwera said.
The President warned people who helped the Tonse Alliance with campaign not to think that this is their time to plunder, adding in his administration, all are equal before the law.
Chakwera emphasised on transparency in procurement processes, saying he was aware of unscrupulous businesspersons that register different business entities to vie for one tender.
Human Right Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Gift Trapence said he was happy the President touched on thorny issues, especially where he warned members of the Tonse Alliance that everyone was equal before the law.