The Malawi Defence Force (MDF) is on Thursday next week scheduled to appear before Justice Redson Kapindu to explain why it is refusing to furnish the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) with documents relating to Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s corruption case.
A Notice of Adjournment from the High Court in Lilongwe, dated October 12, shows that the MDF was supposed to appear before the court on October 17 2023.
Reads the notice: “Take notice that proceedings for the Malawi Defence Force to show cause why an order of disclosure should not be made in favour of the accused person, previously scheduled for 17th October 2023 has been adjourned to the 19th day of October, 2023 at 10 O’clock in the forenoon”.
The ACB told the court last month that it has not been able to get some documents from MDF even after seeking for those to be submitted to the court as disclosures, prompting Justice Kapindu to order MDF to appear in his chamber to explain their side of the story.
The judge said: “It is only fair that parties should hear specific presentations from MDF and this court rules that the MDF may appear through AG or another representative on a date to be fixed.”
The ruling followed a request the ACB made earlier to the MDF after the defence submitted to the court that they needed the communication which includes a memo from MDF to President Lazarus Chakwera on procurement of armoured vehicles.
ACB lawyer Chrispin Khunga told the court that MDF refused to give the documents on the basis that they are classified.
During the last hearing, defence lawyer Bright Theu accused the bureau of failing to fully use its powers under Section 11 of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) to prompt MDF to provide the documents.
Chilima is accused of receiving an unspecified amount of money from United Kingdom-based Zuneth Sattar to influence award of contracts.
Earlier, the defence punched holes in the new charge sheet for the VP describing it as ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘substandard’ that, among others, it does not mention the alleged money received or demanded from Sattar.
But the bureau likened the money alleged to have been received or demanded from Sattar as an advantage since it was unspecified and, therefore, cannot appear on the charge sheet.
Chilima’s initial charge sheet particulars of the offence indicated that he received a $280 000 bribe to assist Xaviar Limited to be awarded a Malawi Polic Service food ration packs contract.
The new particulars of the offences do not mention the alleged bribe but instead, accuse Chilima of demanding and receiving “unspecified amounts of money for himself” to influence a public officer to give his approval to enter into contact with the company.