The Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal will on March 24 2020 resume hearing the case of former president Bakili Muluzi. Muluzi is accused of diverting K1.7 billion of public money to his personal account during his presidency.
A court schedule at the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, dated December 16 2019, signed by High Court and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Agnes Patemba, indicates that the highest court in the country has assigned nine Supreme Court judges led by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda to hear the case in Blantyre.
Other judges in the case, which has entered its 14th year having started in 2006, are Edward Twea, Jane Ansah who is also Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson, Rezine Mzikamanda, Anaclet Chipeta, Lovemore Chikopa, Frank Kapanda, Dunstain Mwaungulu and Anthony Kamanga.
Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director Reyneck Matemba in an interview last week expressed concern over the slow pace of the case.
He said: “None of us in the ACB is happy with the status regarding this case. We need to find a way of disposing this case, once and for all. We cannot continue like this.
“All parties involved in this matter have to play their rightful role. As ACB, we will do our part to ensure that the case is disposed of. But as ACB, we can only do so much, there are a lot of vested interests in this matter. Besides, a lot of taxpayers’ money has been spent on this case, the longer the case drags, the more we continue to provide a disservice to the people of Malawi.”
According to Matemba, the position of the case is that Muluzi’s lawyers obtained a stay of the criminal proceedings in the High Court pending his application to the Constitutional Court where he is challenging the constitutionality of Section 32 of the Corrupt Practices Act.
He said: “You might recall that one of the charges that we levelled against him relates to possession of unexplained property, which is an offence under Section 32 of the Corrupt Practices Act.”
Lawyer representing Muluzi, Tamando Chokotho, said the defence was waiting for the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal to set dates for hearing the case.
In November last year, the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament asked ACB to update the nation on the status of the case, arguing that it has gone on for too long.
Committee chairperson Kezzie Msukwa asked ACB to either prosecute Muluzi or dismiss the case if the State was not interested in prosecuting him.
Muluzi, 76, the country’s first multiparty president who ruled Malawi from 1994 to 2004, is answering to corruption charges alongside his former personal secretary Lyness Whiskey.
He is being accused of diverting K1. 7 billion, which government alleges was public funds, to his person bank account during his reign. Muluzi was taken to court by the State in 2006 during Bingu wa Mutharika’s reign but for 14 years the case has not made progress.