The Chronicle (Lilongwe)

6 August 2001

Malawi: Stambuli, Lemani Left Untouched By ACB Arrests On MTL

The Anti-Corruption Bureau which started making some arrests in the Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) Phones Bureau Scam has once again surprised the nation by leaving out bigger names allegedly implicated. Several highly placed individuals including Information Minister Clement Stambuli and the MTL Chairperson Ruth Lemani, wife to the flamboyant presidential advisor and confidant, Dumbo Lemani are named in the fraudulent activity after they used insider information and gave themselves lucrative telephone bureaux contracts without following proper bidding and selection procedures. The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) which last week arrested four bosses at MTL including the Chief Executive Emmanuel Mahuka, has surprisingly left out those who are also mentioned to have been fraudulently given and who accepted the phone bureaux contracts in Blantyre and Lilongwe. The ACB, which is seeking a mandate to arrest corruption suspects without having to obtain consent from the DPP, has on several occasions been criticised for rushing to the arrest of smaller fry while leaving the big fish in corruption cases. Apart from Mahuka, the other three senior managers netted are Director of Finance Masauko Katsala, Senior Telecommunications Officer Edna Mleme and Controller of Legal Affairs Aiman Malijani. A court clerk at Blantyre Magistrate court during the hearing of bail applications by two of the arrested suspects introduced the case as 'the Emmanuel Mahuka and Eight Others' case. ACB Deputy Director Alex Nampota confirmed that the number of suspects to be arrested is nine. He said the Bureau is yet to arrest the other five suspects. 'We are yet to deal with those five. It is only an operational matter. In fact,' he went on, ' we should have opened a separate docket for those other suspects." However it is not clear whether Stambuli and Ruth Lemani are amongst the remaining five suspects yet to be arrested. During the last sitting of Parliament opposition MPs called for the resignation of Stambuli to pave the way for investigations as it was feared that his stay as Information Minister would make it difficult for the ACB to conduct it's investigations. Stambuli, soon after the phones scandal was revealed cancelled all the offers. He later went on the defensive saying there was nothing wrong in MTL offering the phone bureaux and coin phones to its senior officials indicating that they would have the appropriate technical know-how to enable them to win the tenders. The MTL scam was revealed early June after information was leaked to the press concerning the sale by tender of public phones at MTL. It was reported that all the phones bureaux which were making huge profits had been shared among MTL bosses and other UDF functionaries. The most profitable city phone bureaux had been shared amongst Information Minister Clement Stambuli, MTL board chair Ruth Lemani and Chief Executive Emmanuel Mahuka. Stambuli was given the Lilongwe Bureau, Lemani got the Limbe Bureau while Mahuka got the Blantyre Bureau. The Bureaux in Mzuzu and Zomba were also given to other managers within MTL who are supporters of the ruling UDF party. Observers say that the arrests so far made are of those suspected to have sympathies with the ex Information minister Brown Mpinganjira of the National Democratic Alliance pressure group who was expelled from the UDF after he had challenged proponents of an unconstitutional third term bid for President Muluzi.

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