The first accused person in the Paul Mphwiyo shooting case, Macdonald Kumwembe, who is answering a conspiracy to commit murder charge, told the court on Monday that he wants three top government officials as his witnesses in court.
He mentioned deputy director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Reyneck Matemba, former secretary to the Treasury (ST) Newby Kumwembe and former chief State advocate Zolomphi Nkowani, who is now in private practice.
The accused Kumwembe made the request when hearing of the conspiracy to murder and attempted murder cases of former budget director in the Ministry of Finance, Mphwiyo, resumed at the High Court in Lilongwe.
Kumwembe also said Ralph Kasambara’s bodyguard, a Mr Gani and driver, a Mr Chimwaza and paralegal officer at Ministry of Justice Samuel Kumbweza should testify.
However, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale objected to the request.
She said Matemba and Kumbweza cannot testify because they are officers of the court who have been involved in the on-going case. Presiding judge Michael Mtambo was yet to make a decision on the matter.
During the hearing, Kumwembe paraded Friday Jumbe, former finance minister in the Bakili Muluzi administration in the early 2000s, as his witness due to his presumed knowledge of public finance management.
Jumbe’s expert testimony came on the back of Mphwiyo’s submission in his affidavit that he was “being pressurised by politicians and Cabinet ministers to make payments”.
In his testimony, Jumbe said under public finance management the budget director has no powers to issue or make payments.
“It is not possible because a budget director works under the Secretary to Treasury. If the holder of that office [budget director] issues payments, then procedures are being flouted,” said Jumbe when Kumwembe asked him on the role of a budget director in relation to issuance of payments.
However, when DPP Kachale quizzed Jumbe on whether he could be a witness of truth on the role of a budget director, Jumbe said: “I don’t know the parameters under which Mphwiyo was working.”
Kachale asked again: “Do public servants follow the law?”
In response, Jumbe conceded that “sometimes” public servants flout procedures.
He also admitted that even during his time at the Ministry of Finance, his office made substantial payments and that other people were being prioritised.
Jumbe also told the court that the office of the budget director works in the shadow of the ST; hence, the office can only make payments if delegated.
On Mphwiyo’s claims that politicians were pressurising him to make payments, Kumwembe’s second witness Hophmally Makande, a former spokesperson for the then ruling People’s Party (PP), said: “I did not give Mphwiyo 10 days to make payments. I don’t know anything and, therefore, cannot say anything. But I know that Pika Manondo [second accused] and Mphwiyo were good friends. His brother lived with Mphwiyo some years back and they were always together,” said Makande.
During cross-examination, Makande said former Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Raphael Kasambara, who is facing charges of conspiracy to murder Mphwiyo, never wanted him appointed ito that position.
The case has since been adjourned to 9am today.
Mphwiyo was shot outside his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on September 13 2013.
The incident is widely believed to have exposed the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill that came to be known as Cashgate. n