The list is long of those mentioned in the Zuneth Sattar saga as either having spoken to him or benefitted from the UK-based businessman. But I doubt the country will get anywhere near close to finalizing the alleged corruption investigations of those mentioned in the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) report before 2025. Unfortunately some people have already been fired or suspended from their jobs or indeed put on the mute button.
We know them all so there is no need of mentioning their names here again. Save for the Vice-President Saulos Chilima who is undoubtedly one of the biggest casualties in the saga where President Lazarus Chakwera is trying to show that he is very much alive to his Tonse Alliance pledge and mantra of clearing the rubble on the dashboard of corruption. For starters, Chakwera withheld all delegated duties to his deputy on the basis that his name is mentioned in the ACB report.
Unlike the other casualties about whom the report ascribes some incriminating statements, there is absolutely nothing it says about Chilima, save for merely mentioning him. The conclusion one draws from the development is that Sattar is through and through a criminal enterprise and therefore anyone mentioned in the same breath with him is either courting or massaging a crime or indeed in throes of one. Unfortunately, Sattar is, until proven guilty in a competent court of law, innocent. The man has not even been charged in the United Kingdom where that country’s National Crimes Agency (NCA) has been investigating him. The only thing that is known for a fact now is that the Malawi Government gave Sattar’s five firms business worth over $150 million between 2017 and 2020.
Cracking the whip on Chilima and thereby fracturing his political future over unsubstantiated allegations is what has raised the helluva of a mess and consternation in the Tonse Alliance. All this comes against the background of the agreement the Alliance’s main partners—Malawi Congress Party president Chakwera and UTM Party leader Chilima—signed in 2020. In that agreement is a clause which says Chilima will become the presidential candidate in 2025 under the Alliance’s ticket. The undoing of that clause is that the power-sharing deal is subject to endorsement of the two parties’ national executives committees. MCP claims it does not even have the document in its possession. The best one can read from the agreement therefore is that it must have been a mere gentleman’s agreement.
Unfortunately, the agreement places a moral and political obligation of no small proportion on Chakwera and MCP to abide by not only the spirit of its framers but also the letter. The 2020 electoral buddies in the court-sanctioned fresh presidential election are now at daggers drawn because MCP looks hell bent to abrogate the deal, if it has not already done so. If this is indeed MCP’s intention, then the oldest political party in the land is selfish. It used UTM to achieve its gluttonous political ambitions and then after assuaging its desires for power and all that come with it, dumped the party like a used condom. In that context, one would say Chilima and UTM supporters are justified to be angry.
Then there are all those other people also mentioned in the ACB report that Chakwera ordered his office—Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC)—to follow up and deal with. Unfortunately, OPC can only begin such a process after ACB has concluded investigations on them.
The question that comes to one’s mind then is when will the graft-busting body finish its investigations on all the people mentioned in the report? You can agree with me not until Jesus Christ comes again. Is ACB doing any independent investigations on Sattar? Does it even have the political will to do so? For me, it is a foregone conclusion that come 2025 MCP and UTM will be striding different paths.n