Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee has described as “challenging”, the three-year tenure of office by outgoing Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Lucas Kondowe.
In an interview yesterday, the committee chairperson Maxwell Thyolera said: “He [Kondowe] was in an awkward position because of the difficult legal environment he was operating in.
“Although, there are claims of independence but that was not the case. There was too much undue influence and getting of instructions from other quarters which in the end led to failure to complete several high profile cases.”
He cited the issue of K236 billion and several other Cashgate cases that have not been completed and lack proper direction.
Said Thyolera: “In short, those people who were cronies of the ruling party are being spared.”
But his sentiments contradict what Kondowe told our sister newspaper, the Weekend Nation a day after his appointment was confirmed by the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament in October 2014, that President Peter Mutharika had ordered him not to look at people’s names but evidence and the law when leading the institution.
Thyolera said his committee expects the new director general to be ready to burn his or her fingers by doing what is expected of the office.
“He or she must not look at political party affiliation of suspects when handling their cases,” he said.
The chairperson also asked government to create a conducive legal environment for the ACB head so that he or she freely executes the duties of the office.
Mutharika appointed Kondowe on a three-year contract in October 2014 when he replaced Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judge Rezine Mzikamanda who returned to the Judiciary.
Perhaps Kondowe’s worst experience as director was in December 2014 when he was barely three months old at ACB, when the President ordered the police to seal all ACB offices nationwide amid a strike by the staff.
In March 2015, he was embroiled in a controversy when an unidentified person deposited K2 million cash into his personal account at First Merchant Bank (FMB). He disowned the cash.
Another major highlight of his tenure at ACB came in April 2015 when he refused to be served with a High Court order stopping his office from arresting Blantyre-based private practice lawyer Frank Mbeta on suspicion that he bribed an officer at Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to delete information from three computers seized from business person Shiraz Ferreira on his arrest in October 2014 on tax evasion charges.
Prior to his appointment as ACB director general he was general manager for finance, planning and strategy at FMB.
Among others, Kondowe holds an MBA and BBA (Hons) from the University of Stellenbosch in Cape Town, South Africa and is a Fellow of the Chartered Certified Accountant. n