Former president of Malawi, Peter Mutharika and wife had their bank accounts frozen by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) after noticing strange withdraws in the course of investigations underway.
The anti-graft body has also ordered a freeze on the bank accounts of former Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Deputy Director General Roza Mbilizi, and Mutharika’s top security aide Norman Chisale for allegedly using Mutharika duty-free status for sitting presidents to import K5 billion worth of cement.
ACB sources revealed that, Mutharika’ accounts; one that is solely owned by the former president and another, a joint account with his wife have been frozen.
Mutharika’s personal secretary Linda Salanjira declined to comment on the matter, saying the former president’s lawyers would be best placed to comment regarding the issue. However, Mutharika’s lawyers Frank Mbeta and Samuel Tembenu did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The former president has previously rejected any suggestion of misconduct, as he denied to have bought nor instructed anyone to buy or import the cement in question saying, he did not, as he could not, request the Malawi Revenue Authority to invoke any of his privileges to clear the alleged consignment of cement duty-free.
“Further, the former President was never at any point undertaking any construction project (s) requiring such substantial volumes of cement,” his secretary said in a statement.
It is believed that the former first lady Gertrude Mutharika had however construction projects.
Before Mutharika was ousted from power in the June 23 fresh presidential election, State House and MRA on June 16 justified the transaction as “within the law”, as it was for personal use.
ACB is believed to have also frozen one account for Chisale and three accounts for Roza Mbilizi at NBS Bank, National Bank and Standard Bank, reports denied by Chisale’s lawyer Chancy Gondwe saying he does not have details of the frozen accounts.
Meanwhile, there are fears that serious capacity challenges facing State agencies including ACB may inevitably lead to compromised processes such as inadequate investigations that may result in failed prosecutions.
Private practice lawyer John-Gift Mwakhwawa described as an unhealthy situation at ACB where the graft-busting body’s director general Reyneck Matemba is mostly the one moving from one court to the next because of capacity challenges.
He said it is therefore important to” enhance capacity” in all law enforcement agencies not just in terms of human resource but also funding.
The ACB boss described the level of plunder of public resources in the immediate past administration as a ‘Tsunami’ which has instigated his office to approach government on the issue of inadequate funding affecting efficiency in the running of the anti-graft body’ operations.
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC news