The Anti-Corruption Bureau has closed investigations into claims by former Information minister Symon Vuwa Kaunda that he resisted a K5 million bribe from a mobile phone company, saying the bureau has established that no one offered Kaunda the alleged bribe.
Kaunda claimed in 2011 that G-Mobile (Globally Advanced Integrated Networks Limited) offered him the bribe through the ministry’s staff so he could influence Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) to ease pressure on the mobile company to roll out.
This was after Macra had slapped G-Mobile with a $6.9 million (about K2.3 billion at the current exchange rates) fine for failing to roll out its network. Kaunda claimed the company wanted him to use his powers to reduce the penalty to about $400 000 (about K136 million), but he refused.
ACB senior public relations officer Egrita Ndala said on Thursday the bureau has investigated the matter and established no truth in Kaunda’s claims.
Ndala said the bureau has also closed a case which faulted Kaunda for failing to report the matter to the bureau within 24 hours.
“The investigation established that there was no reason for him to report to the bureau as there was nobody who approached to offer him a bribe. The case was closed in accordance with Section 10(2) (b) of the Corrupt Practices Act,” said Ndala.
When Kaunda made the allegations, G-Mobile dismissed them, saying none of its officials offered him a bribe.
Kaunda could not comment on ACB’s decision on Thursday.
“I opt to remain silent,” he said.
But in 2011, Kaunda said he rejected the alleged bribe so he could not betray the late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s zero-tolerance for corruption policy.
When ACB decided to make Kaunda answer for failure to report a corruption case within 24 hours, the former minister hit back, saying ACB focus on him would threaten whistle- blowers as they would fear prosecution when they fail to report corruption cases to the bureau within the specified time.
Kaunda argued that he had resolved to first warn officials in the Information Ministry to allow them time to change before taking the matter further.
Lawyer and executive director for Justice Link Justin Dzonzi said ACB’s findings have no legal implications on Kaunda.
“Lying in Malawi in that sense is not a criminal office. It may only dent his political image without necessarily making him liable for criminal sanction. If that statement had been made under oath or in court, then that would have formed the foundation for criminal sanction,” Dzonzi said.
Macra revoked G-Mobile’s licence in September 2010, but in October 2010, the High Court granted an injunction, stopping Macra from revoking G-Mobile’s licence.