Former DPP Rosemary Kanyuka gave consent to the ACB to prosecute some Cabinet ministers in the late president Bingu wa Mutharikaâ€™s administration, but the matters still stalled.
Information sourced by The Nation indicates that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) gave consent to the bureau to prosecute former minister of Information Patricia Kaliati on corruption allegations in the award of Nyika-Vwaza Concession; and ex-minister of Energy Goodall Gondweâ€™s alleged involvement in a K20 million (about $80 000) Ministry of Finance Credit Scheme Account while serving as minister of Finance.
The DPP is also said to have given the anti-graft body a nod to prosecute High Court Judge Joseph Manyungwa in a case in which the judge is alleged to have delivered a ruling without hearing the matter.
In an exclusive interview on Tuesday, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Ralph Kasambara said although government respects the independence of the ACB, it is following with keen interest the status of cases involving some prominent people.
Kasambara said he was briefed by Kanyuka that consent was already given on some case files, for example, the Kaliati, Gondwe-Milton Kutengule and Manyungwa files.
“We respect the independence of the ACB and we believe the director is doing the needful, but if the matters are prolonged further, and by the end of this month, nothing is done, then the office of the DPP will be asked to prosecute the matters,” said Kasambara.
â€˜Law will take courseâ€™
Quizzed if President Joyce Bandaâ€™s administration will not be shielding its senior officials implicated in corruption scandals, Kasambara said where there is credible evidence of a crime committed, the law will take its course regardless of social status.
“Once the ACB has concluded investigations and the DPP has given consent to prosecute, there cannot be any stopping,” said Kasambara.
â€˜I report to Legal Affairs Committeeâ€™
ACB director Alex Nampota on Wednesday declined to comment on the consent issues to do with the former Cabinet ministers and other prominent people. He said he reports to Parliamentâ€™s Legal Affairs Committee.
“I will never say anything, but what you have to know is that ACB moves as an institution. It has a legal department and it has the PRO [public relations officer],” said Nampota in an interview at his residence in Blantyre.
While vehemently declining to be drawn into discussing the issues raised by Kasambara, Nampota said it is not proper for anybody to be raising issues about the graft-busting body outside the normal procedures.
Said Nampota: “Each and every meeting I have had with the Legal Affairs Committee, to which I am answerable, it has ended with commendation that we [ACB] are doing a good job as a bureau. I report to the Legal Affairs Committee and for the past four years, I have always done that.â€
The chair of the Legal Affairs Committee was not immediately available for comment on the matter.
While serving as Information and Tourism minister, Kaliati is alleged to have received kickbacks from a United Arab Emirates bidder on the Nyika-Vwaza Eco-tourism Conservation concession tender.
But the former minister denies the allegations, saying her trip to Dubai, which was sponsored by the bidder, was transparent.
The ACB has been saying cross-border investigations take a long time to complete because the exercise relies on the willingness of the other country to provide information.
ACB moved in to investigate Gondwe on the disputed K20 million Ministry of Finance Credit Scheme Account which was allegedly operated by the former Secretary to Treasury Kutengule.