Talking Blues: Faustian Bargains? Ill-advised, very

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Everyone who has been keenly following Zunneth Sattar’s saga from inception to date will agree that several things still don’t add up. From the look of things, Dr Steven Kayuni’s dismissal notwithstanding, progress is still not guaranteed.

There are several reasons for this. The underlying cause is that the web of grand corruption alleged to be at the centre of the Sattar saga is so intricate that:

• no government organ seems to have been immune to Sattar;

• there are many public officials, still serving and some retired, living in fear of being shamed; and

• there are already implicated and hitherto unimplicated folks wallowing and sinking even deeper in this web of ignominy.

As if all this is not enough, politics and political partisanship make this complicated matter even more complex.

Let me elaborate. There’re two schools of thought. The first school of thought is the one responsible for the mess we are in. This hopelessly partisan lot holds that as long a thief is “theirs”, stealing – in whatever form – is alright.

This dumb lot aids and abets corruption.

A second school believes wrong is wrong and that evil deeds do not become virtuous when perpetuated by a relation, an associate, a friend, or a politician they support.

What can we do to get to the bottom of the Sattar-related and other unresolved grand corruption incidences?

The good news is that the commitment of patriotic Malawians to fighting corruption has never been higher. This is why Malawi now has an incorruptible Anti-Corruption Czarina. If this school continues paying attention, the battle will be won.

Let me take you back to Ms Martha Chizuma’s appointment. Even back then, it was clear that the motivations of those fighting her appointment were nefarious. What wasn’t clear was just how much they were worried.

October 2021 came by, and following a three-year-long investigation, Sattar was arrested in the UK. Since then, nothing has been normal here in Malawi.

The tension between the Attorney General (AG), Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and the ACB Director General (DG) only seen once before (when Gustav Kaliwo Esq, the then ACB DG arrested a former president) became the norm.

Because of impediments created by the two other offices and the ACB’s sluggishness in arresting big rotten fish, very little progress has been chalked in Sattar-related cases.

It all started with a proposed vague “amnesty” that could have included those caught up in Sattar’s investigations. Luckily for Lady Justice, the proposal was roundly condemned and aborted.

Before this, a never seen before order “staying the arrest” of an arrest was issued by a Judge. This was a first in Malawi where before, anyone arrested generally went to court to prove their innocence, assuming they were innocent.

Wonders will never cease.

The second hurdle was the denial of consent to prosecute. Parliament intervened by amending the Act, and the impediment was removed.

Then came the unfortunate recording. From the look of things, we are yet to hear the last of this. When the President forgave the ACB DG and closed the issue, her detractors were grossly unhappy. They badly needed to revive the issue.

The question was how.

Like chess grandmasters, they solved this by ‘forcing’ circumstances under which a Commission of Inquiry would be established. Unknown to the masses, the commission would be ‘rigged’.

The game thus set, like a suicide bomber, the now-fired DPP lit the match, and the police took their cue and arrested Ms Chizuma. As intended, a Commission was established with its determination a foregone conclusion.

Why the now-former DPP took the risk, only he knows. My guess is that either the stakes were so high, making it worth its while or that he was – with due respect – too dumb to see that collateral damage was inevitable. And as poetic justice would have it, he became the collateral damage and the proverbial fall guy.

In aid of what?

Fortunately for him, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) is correct. Section 102 of the Constitution does not include “unsound management of a personal grievance” as grounds for a DPP’s dismissal.

Which makes me wonder. Why did President Chakwera not properly base the dismissal on Section 102 (2) of the Constitution?

Section 102 (2) provides that a person may be removed from the office of the DPP if he or she is incompetent, compromised in the exercise of his or her duties to the extent that his or her ability to exercise his or her functions impartially is in serious question, incapacitated or has attained retirement age.

Look here; the dude’s failure to recuse himself in his relative’s case is a conflict of interest.

He was compromised.

If this is not enough, there is the matter of his unauthorised and yet-to-be-fully-repaid “loan”. His initiating Ms Chizuma’s arrest when the bureau started investigating him is yet another manifestation of a conflict of interest.

It was never about “being hurt” following the leaking of the audio.

Hence, if President Chakwera wanted the dismissal to stick, he should have clearly faulted the ex-DPP for being too compromised to function “impartially”.

Anyway, this is now water under the bridge.

Still gravely concerning, however, is the uncontested testimony of the Deputy Director General of the ACB, Mr Elia Daniel Bodole.

Verbatim:

”Mr Bodole … informed the commission that since the Sattar case, the ACB has been having difficulties getting the usual assistance they used to get from the offices of the AG and the DPP.

Mr Bodole told the commission that the ACB could not proceed with cases related to Mr Zunneth Sattar due to the delay in the AG issuance of the letter asking for Mutual Legal Assistance from the British Authorities.”

The ACB Deputy Director General is not alone. The Chairperson for the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, Hon Peter Dimba, also lamented the AG’s lethargy:

“We also ask the Attorney General to consider authorising the request for mutual legal assistance that the ACB submitted in March 2022. It will go a long way in enhancing the fight against graft.”

Look here folks, the AG – who is usually loquacious when ‘acting in our interest’ – has been uncharacteristically silent on this matter.

Since the British are just as keen as patriotic Malawians to nail Sattar, we can safely conclude that the ball has been lying in the AG’s court since March 2022. What is he up to?

Why the delay? Your guess is as good as mine.

Have you ever heard the legend of Faustus?

This legend is based on an astrologer and alchemist who lived in the fifteenth century. Trained in theology, Faustus turned to magic and made a deal with the Devil. In return for power and knowledge in this life, he committed his soul to eternal damnation.

It ended tragically.

My free advice to everyone who can hear: get out of or, better still, avoid getting caught in Faustian Bargains.

It always ends badly.

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