The Vice President of the Republic of Malawi Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima has distanced himself from the allegations of his involvement in corrupt practices with United Kingdom-based businessman, Zuneth Sattar.
In a report that the Anti-Corruption Bureau submitted to the state President, Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, Chilima’s name appears among the Sattar’s bribe beneficiaries.
Chakwera reacting on the matter, on June 21, he maimed all the delegation from Chilima’s office.
He said, “As for him, (Chilima) his office is unique in that the Constiituition does not provide for his suspension or removal from it by the President, because he holds that office by the will of Malawian voters, which I respect.
“As such, the best thing I can do for now, is to withhold from his office any delegated duties while waiting for the Bureau to substantiate its allegations against him and to make known its course of action in relation to such.”
Dr. Chilima, in statement released on Tuesday, 44hours after Chakwera’s announcement, through his director of communications Pilirani Phiri has refuted the allegations saying he finds the manner in which the Bureau has proceeded very troubling.
Part of the statement reads, “The state Vice President finds the manner in which the Bureau has proceeded very troubling. The Bureau has in essence accused him of crime without providing any particulars or evidence in support of the crime. The state Vice President further finds it curious that, to date, the Bureau has not confronted him with the said allegations of criminal conduct so that he has the opportunity of making representations on the same. Instead, a prejudicial one-sided public narrative has been sustained for months now which has incited public anger against the so-called ” mentioned” individuals who helplessly watch their lives being ruined as they wait for the opportunity to voice their side of the story. This is a profound sense of justice that is entirely in this approach.”
The statement further said Dr Chilima is waiting for the appropriate time of challenging the said allegations. It added that the fight against corruption must not be abused for political or other objectives.
“For the record, the State Vice President vehemently denies the allegations that have been levelled against him and will welcome the opportunity, at an appropriate time, of challenging the said allegations. The state Vice President wishes the state that while the Bureau’s efforts to fight corruption deserve unwavering support of all well-meaning Malawians, the fight must always be waged within the confines of the law. It must not be abused for political or other objectivss. One requirement of the law is that every person must be presumed to be innocent until competent court law finds them guilty, and further that accusations of criminality should be made within the space of judicial proceedings. This ensures that the fight against corruption remains a noble enterprise and does not descend into a discredited path of political witch-hunting,” adds the statement.
The statement continued that the Vice President entered public service to serve the interests of Malawians, and that at no points has he ever been involved in any perverted or criminal scheme as suggested by the Bureau, or at all, nor has he ever deployed the office to which Malawians entrusted him in aid of any perverted or criminal scheme.
Reacting to Chakwera’s decision on Wednesday, UTM through a statement released on Thursday, signed by the party General Secretary, Frank Mwenefumbo says no matter what, justice will prevail and Malawian will appreciate it.
Part of the statement that Malawi Guardian has seen, signed by Party’s Publicity Secretary, Frank Mwenefumbo reads, ” We as UTM, are shocked and saddened by the turn of events in the past 24 hours, but as a party that has absolute belief and trust in Malawi’s justice system, we have absolute confidence that justice will prevail in the end.”
UTM further says as of now as a party, they will remain mom henceforth until the ussue comes to its logical conclusion.
“We continue to give our unwavering spport and following to our President, Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima, who led us through all trials and tribulations before and during the Campaign period that ushered in this present Government, ” adds the statement.
Political analyst George Phiri says Chakwera’s decision is likely to be a deal breaker and damage relations between the two leaders and shake the foundation of the Tonse Alliance, while others feel their relationship will remain intact and unharmed.
But another political analyst Victor Chipofya says president Chakwera’s decision will create a rift between the two sides, as it technically renders the veep redundant.
On February 3 2020, the High Court sitting as a Constitutional Court’s verdict ruled that former president Peter Mutharika was not duly elected and that a fresh presidential election be conducted.
The court also ruled that 50-plus-one voting system be applied in the fresh election, meaning that those that have to be declared victorious have to amass over half of total votes cast.
As a result, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), UTM, People Transformation Party, People’s Party, Umodzi Party, People’s Progressive Movement, Freedom Party and Malawi Forum for Unity and Development formed an electoral alliance.
On March 19 2020, the deal was finally sealed.
The Tonse Alliance upstaged the Peter Mutharika led administration.
It is now almost two years into the Tonse Alliance-led government and, for the first time in the country’s history, an alliance of nine parties is leading the nation.
However, accusations and counter-accusations control are the order of the day among alliance partners, especially MCP and UTM.