The National Anti-Corruption Alliance (NACA) has urged President Lazarus Chakwera to fire Minister of Energy Newton Kambala who was arrested yesterday by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
Kambala was arrested together with Presidential Chief Strategy Adviser, Chris Chaima Banda and Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) President, Enock Chihana.
The three are accused of attempting to influence the award of fuel supply contracts at the National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA).
In a statement today, NACA Chairperson Moses Mkandawire said President Chakwera should commit to an investigation into how such conduct is able to happen within inner circles of government.
“It is a matter of grave concern that minister and his adviser are still in service and why the President has not made an official statement to the matter. Even though any person is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, the failure to at least suspend these individuals pending resolution of the matter sends a negative signal about the President’s commitment to purge his administration of corruption.
“Therefore, the Alliance calls upon President Chakwera to lead by example and not empty rhetoric on ending corruption, which is one of the pillars of his “Super Hi 5”, by sacking all ministers, advisers and officials involved in this scandal,” said Mkandawire.
He added that the alliance also expects that the arrest of the three will compel the President to reorganize his cabinet.
According to Mkandawire, the involvement of the cabinet minister, his presidential adviser and the Tonse Alliance partner, AFORD’s president Enock Chihana, is an indicator that the President did not do enough screening before appointing his cabinet.
“This development is thus an opportunity for the President to pick his new team based on competency and not political expediency. It is against this background that we urge the President to immediately reshuffle his cabinet. Our expectation is that all those implicated in corruption will not be included in the President’s next cabinet,” said Mkandawire.
He also commended the ACB for arresting the three suspects and called upon the bureau and other relevant authorities to complete their investigations with diligence and to prosecute those found with a case to answer without delay and according to international fair trial standards.
Mkandawire said the alliance does not want to see any delays to the case considering that the arrests are coming after investigations by the ACB.
He further called for expeditious establishment of the Financial Crimes Court to fast-track and efficiently dispose of cases of corruption and theft of public funds, which remain prevalent in the country.
“We believe that the special court would really help the country to deal with the backlog of stagnating cases. Malawians have exercised enough patience over delays in prosecuting corruption cases. Any further delays will not be acceptable. It is, therefore, our hope that government will expedite the establishment of this special court in order to accelerate prosecution and resolution of these cases,” said Mkandawire.
Meanwhile, the three suspects are expected to spend another night in police custody as the bureau has not taken them to court following interrogations today.