Malawi too soft in fight against corruption – analyst

President Lazarus Chakwera's Chief of Staff Prince Kapondamgaga

Social and political commentator Wonderful Mkhutche is of the view that the dropping of charges against the suspended State House Chief of Staff Prince Kapondamgaga, has demonstrated how powerless the fight against corruption has become in Malawi.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau on Friday last week relieved Kapondamgaga from being prosecuted on accusations that British Businessman Zuneth Sattar bribed him and other senior public officers in government to obtain public procurement contracts.

According to a press statement signed by ACB Principal Public Relations Officer Egrita M. Ndala, Kapondamgaga received a Mercedes Benz S Class 350d and other gifts from Sattar which he has surrendered to the grafting body.

The statement further states that the former State House Chief of Staff agreed a deal with the bureau to become a state witness and give back all the money and material benefits he obtained from the UK based businessman which he has done, hence the dropping of all the charges.

“Mr. Kapondamgaga voluntarily gave a statement to the Bureau and signed a restitution agreement with the Bureau. At the moment, he has already surrendered the Mercedes Benz S Class 350d. After a review of the evidence against Mr Kapondamgaga in this case, evaluation of the information he provided in respect of the broader investigations relating to Zuneth Sattar and the restitution agreement be has voluntarily entered with the Bureau, a prosecutorial discretion has been exercised not to lay criminal charge against him. Accordingly, the Bureau has completed and closed the investigations against him,” reads part of the statement.

Reacting to the development Mkhutche said the dropping of the charges against a person who admitted to have committed the offence is a true demonstration that Malawi is losing the battle against corruption.

“This particular case shows how powerless our fight against corruption has become. Someone admitting that they did as accused, but due to the need to have them help with other cases, we freely let them go without facing any punishment. It does not show legal rights, but our loss to the fight against corruption,” reacted Mkhutche.

While adding that the development reveals that corruption is indeed happening inside the government system and the ones doing it are people in the positions of power, the commentator said it was paramount to let justice prevail.

He further told this publication that looking at how selective the fight against corruption has been since 1994, speculations that ACB has been marred by selective justice holds some water.

Mkhutche continued by saying if the country will be this “soft” in fighting corruption, Malawians should brace for more theft of their money which he said will stagnate the country’s developmental agendas.

“We are too soft and formal in the fight against corruption. Therefore, let us not expect any significant gains in the fight against corruption. We need fundamental changes in our approach towards this fight. Otherwise, it will continue being a lip service while corruption continues to put our people in poverty,” added Mkhutche.

Meanwhile, on Kapondamgaga’s acceptance of gifts and other benefits by public officers, the Bureau has made a strong recommendation to the Office of the President and Cabinet to immediately review the Malawi Public Service Regulations in accordance with his suspension in June last year.