Some civil society organisations (CSOs) and sections of the public have expressed frustration over the slow pace of the wheels of justice in cases of alleged corruption, fraud and abuse.
But the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) yesterday indicated it was tirelessly working on the cases while President Lazarus Chakwera’s executive assistant Sean Kampondeni conceded the concerns were legitimate.
The reactions come against the background of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) writing the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to voice its frustrations over delayed prosecutions in several criminal cases, including corruption.
Legally, the DPP provides consent to agencies such as police and ACB to prosecute cases.
Responding to questions during yesterday’s session of State House Weekly Press briefings, Kampondeni, who is also State House director of communications, said while the concerns were legitimate, they should be addressed to the investigating and prosecuting agencies because the President was not directly responsible for the prosecution and investigation of the cases.
He said: “You will recall both on campaign trail and even in office the President vowed not to interfere with the independence of investigating and prosecuting agencies.
“The President has said he will provide all the support, but also ensure they are independent, so let Malawians ask these questions but ask those responsible.”
On his part, ACB director general Reyneck Matemba yesterday wondered why HRDC and some sections of society believe there was no progress on the cases.
He said: “How do they know there is no movement? We will not comment on some of the cases because our investigators are working hard.
“We cannot be revealing too much about our investigations to avoid alerting suspects, but as for HRDC, we have been updating them on our steps.”
Matemba cited several cases that have commenced following change of government in the aftermath of the court-ordered June 23 Fresh Presidential Election, but said he will not comment much on the issue.
“The issues raised by HRDC are not our cases.
All our cases are going to court. We have the [Thomson] Mpinganjira case still in court. But let me not comment any further,” he said.
In an interview yesterday, HRDC national chairperson Gift Trapence said they were not impressed by the response by the DPP.
He said: “We don’t want a blame game. There are so many outstanding cases, including old and new ones.
“HRDC is planning to have a joint meeting with Ministry of Justice, the DPP, Malawi Police Service and ACB. We are worried of outstanding cases such as Batatawala, Zameer Karim police food rations and others. We need justice on these issues.”
Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pirirani Masanjala, speaking on behalf on DPP Mary Kachale, said the office has responded to the civil society group.
He said: “It is important for the public to be informed that the major part of addressing concerns over investigations and prosecutions is played by the various agencies themselves.”
Prosecutor Kamudoni Nyasulu, who has expertise in prosecuting financial crimes, yesterday called for the need for strategic planning among the key criminal justice system agencies if the country is to make progress in the fight against corruption.
The veteran prosecutor, who has previously served as DPP and worked at United Nations tribunal, said: “There are so many cases from as far back as 2013 that law enforcement has to deal with.
“The backlog of cases was due to a number of factors, including poor funding and lack of capacity in terms of adequate personnel. This creates a lot of pressure with all the new cases that have now come to light since change of government.
“However, you would not expect law enforcement to start operating at supersonic speed simply because government has changed. What is required is a strategy that is informed by all the key players—DPP, Financial Intelligence Authority, ACB, Police and the Judiciary. That is how Cashgate was dealt with.”
Some of the outstanding criminal cases include the Zameer Karim Police food rations deal and albino killings investigations.