Hon. Folks, Tuesday’s sentencing of billionaire Thom Mpinganjira to nine years imprisonment with hard labour by the Blantyre High Court in the judge bribery case was definitely the most trending subject in Malawian this week.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested Mpinganjira in January 2020 for attempting to bribe five High Court judges sitting as the Constitutional Court to favour ex-president and Democratic Progressive Party candidate Peter Mutharika in the 2019 Presidential Election nullification case.
In other words, Mpinganjira wanted to pay off the judges to discard a joint petition by President Lazarus Chakwera and his vice Saulos Chilima (then in opposition) who sought nullification of Mutharika’s dubious win in the May 21 2019 presidential race over massive vote irregularities.
Mpinganjira’s arrest eight months after the vote followed Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda’s complaint to ACB that some sneaky ‘desperadoes’ were offering cash bribes to influence judgement in the historic case.
The rest, as they say, is history. After everything the court unanimously cancelled Mutharika’s false victory and ordered a fresh poll on June 23 2020 that was won by the Chakwera-Chilima alliance.
Regrettably money has been a unique force behind our politics since the inception of the second multiparty dispensation in 1993 and very few Malawians with unrealistic financial backing succeed in politics nowadays.
Over the past 28 years, we have witnessed many rich people being so intent to influence political processes by funding politicians and their parties especially those in government with absolute belief that one good turn deserves another.
And in DPP we had the best government that money could buy and probably that is why people like Thom Mpinganjira and several others are facing trouble today.
Once regarded as a morally upright entrepreneur having grown his FDH Financial Holdings Limited from scratch to splendour, Mpinganjira’s bad luck possibly switched on the minute he started flirting with DPP politicians for obvious reasons.
Hon. Folks, one thing I have learnt from the judge bribery case is that the most horrifying criminals of all are greedy politicians and business executives who conceal themselves in well-tailored suits.
Incidentally in her ruling on Tuesday, Judge DeGabrielle said by committing the corrupt crimes he was convicted for, the banker acted with impunity by trying to use his fortune and influence in society to divert the course of justice.
Her ruling was, therefore, a huge step towards restoring public confidence in the country’s justice system which has oftentimes been embroiled in numerous corruption accusations.
Many have also wondered whether the business tycoon’s links with DPP was a case of ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’ that deepened after his purchase of a 75 percent stake in the then government-owned Malawi Savings Bank during the DPP era.
Whatever the case the fact remains that Mpinganjira is in jail for using his wealth in trying to help DPP and Mutharika remain in power. The sad part is that the new prisoner was left all alone to face justice while his accomplices are enjoying their freedoms with their families.
This is a fresh reminder to all Malawians that no politician is worth fighting for. These people are the same and they will use you and dump you when it suits them and you will end up scratching your head in disbelief.
Corruption has ruined Malawi for many years and it is unfortunate that we still have crooked individuals in public offices today who are still betraying our flag by befriending some Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi mafias to enrich themselves corruptly.
These foreign monsters are the ones fuelling immense crimes on tax evasions, externalising forex and wildlife offenses, but when arrested on purpose they often go scot-free and continue to commit more crimes.
Surely no sane person wants to ever set foot inside our overcrowded jails and it is everyone’s hope that our State prosecuting agencies will expedite big cases already in courts to ensure that convicts go to jail immediately to be reformed just like Thom Mpinganjira. n