Malawi: Minister, others in court today

Energy Minister Newton Kambala, Alliance for Democracy president Enock Chihana and President Lazarus Chakwera’s Chief Adviser on Strategy Chris Chaima Banda spent another night in police custody as Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) officials concluded interrogating the three Tuesday afternoon.

The three are this morning expected to be taken to court to be charged.

Kambala’s lawyer George Mwale told reporters after Tuesday’s interrogation that lasted close to eight hours that the ACB was yet to charge the accused persons.

Mwale could not be drawn to comment on the questions the three were asked during investigations.

“Nothing has been concretised yet. We will have a better picture tomorrow,” Mwale said.

But Chihana’s lawyer Gilbert Khonyongwa said the interrogation revolved around the issue of the award of contracts for fuel importation at National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma).

“We will be applying for bail tomorrow,” Khonyongwa said.

ACB officials were interrogating the accused persons while scores of UTM and Aford supporters were singing outside the bureau’s offices.

Meanwhile, National Anti- Corruption Alliance Chairperson Moses Mkandawire has, in a statement, asked Chakwera to investigate circumstances leading to the arrest of a Cabinet minister and adviser.

“The ACB investigation notwithstanding, the President should commit to an investigation into how such conduct can happen within inner circles of government. Considering the recent loans bill debacle, such an investigation should reflect on the recruitment and supervision of government officials and policies and procedures that govern their conduct,” the statement reads.

On Monday, ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala indicated that the three were arrested after bureau officials received a complaint alleging corruption in the way Nocma conducted the process to award contracts to supply fuel.

The arrests came after, in November last year, Nocma Deputy Chief Executive Officer Hellen Buluma reported to ACB that the three were allegedly meddling in the fuel tender process with intent to influence award of the fuel supply contracts to specific suppliers.

She said, as a result, the graft-busting body restricted the contract while conducting investigations into the issue.

According to Ndala, ACB, on August 6, lifted the restriction as investigations into the first complaint did not establish any offence.

“In the second complaint, the investigation established that Hon. Newton Kambala, Minister of Energy, attempted to influence Nocma to award contracts of 2020-2021 fuel supply for the advantage of Orxy, Finergy and Trifugira Fuel companies.

“Mr Enock Chihana, president of Alliance for Democracy, and Mr. Chris Chaima Banda, Presidential Adviser on Strategy, aided and abetted Hon. Newton Kambala when he attempted to influence the award of the contract to supply 40,000 metric tones (mt) of fuel to a company known as Finergy,” Ndala said.

ACB Director General Martha Chizuma also told journalists in Lilongwe on Monday that investigations into the matter confirmed political interference.

“There is a recommendation that there must be prosecution of those that are allegedly involved. The bureau is in the process of executing that recommendation,” she said.

Chizuma said they have advised NOCMA to use ex-tank method of importation as there is an injunction against the use of DDU.

“Going through the procurement process that Nocma undertook, we could not detect any corrupt practices; maybe there are just two or three things that we have referred to the Solicitor General just to guide us on the legality of some of the actions that Nocma took,” she said.

State House Director of Communications Sean Kampondeni, said Chakwera was awaiting official communication from ACB before he could act on the matter.

Source: Times Group《》RT

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