Malawi Ex-President Muluzi Back in Court On March 24

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17 January 2020

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) returns to High Court in Blantyre on March 24 with the the case of former president Bakili Muluzi that has stagnated for about 14 years.

A panel of nine Supreme Court judges led by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda will hear the case in Blantyre, according to court schedule at the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, dated December 16 2019, signed by High Court and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Agnes Patemba.

Other judges in the case are Edward Twea, Jane Ansah who is also Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson, Rezine Mzikamanda, Anaclet Chipeta, Lovemore Chikopa, Frank Kapanda, Dunstain Mwaungulu and Anthony Kamanga.

Muluzi, 75, the first multiparty president and ruled Malawi from 1994 to 2004, was charged over K1.7 billion which was donated through him for his United Democratic Front (UDF) campaign for his handpicked successor Bingu wa Mutharika in 2014 which was in his personal account.

The State claimed the money was public funds despite that donations were made directly to him for party purposes and not from donor nations.

Muluzi was first arrested in July 2006 and initially charged on 80 counts of allegedly siphoning aid cash into his private account. He is being jointly charged with his former personal secretary Lines Whiskey.

But the graft-busting body has previously expressed interest to drop the charges because of lack of evidence.

ACB already returned over 60 vehicles it seized from Muluzi.

Through a 2009 court order, the bureau seized 63 vehicles which it suspected were bought using corruption earnings.

But an out-of-court agreement between ACB and Muluzi lawyers led to the release of the vehicles in 2018.The agreement was subsequently validated by a court consent.

Over K600 million was deducted from the said K1.7 billion which the two accused are accused to have fraudulently acquired as there was no indication it was corruptly acquired.

The deductions, among others, include K11 million whose method of payment was a loan deposited into Muluzi's account at Loita Investment Bank and a K80 million loan from Stanbic Bank (now Standard Bank) which Muluzi got for the construction of Keza Office Park.

Muluzi's lead counsel, Tamando Chokotho, argued that the court does not have material to ascertain that the K1.7 billion was disproportionate to his client's known sources of income and that he can only be called to explain how he got the money if his known sources of income have been brought before court.

In November last year, the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament asked ACB to update the nation on the status of the case, arguing that it has gone on for too long.

Committee chairperson Kezzie Msukwa asked ACB to either prosecute Muluzi or dismiss the case if the State was not interested in prosecuting him.

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