Finally, the act is out. The Ant-Corruption Bureau has confirmed that Vice President Saulosi Chilima is one of the highest profile people on Zuneth Sattar’s list.
The revelation is contained in the report submitted to President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera on Tuesday. Chilima’s name initially came out through unconfirmed court documents allegedly from a UK court where Sattar appeared in connection with corruption as alleged by that country’s National Criminal Agency (NCA).
Chilima’s official mention by the local graft busting body has left Chakwera with no option but to act tough on his deputy.
Unfortunately, the President has no constitutional powers to fire Chilima as he is holding an elected position instead the president has chosen to withhold all delegated powers to him.
President Chakwera said the report reveals that the Vice President is among the 13 who conducted themselves corruptly with Sattar on the issue.
“The report states that the Bureau has concluded that he is among the 13 who conducted themselves corruptly with Mr. Sattar,” said President Chakwera.
However, President Chakwera said because of the limited powers he has on the removal or suspension of the Vice President he could not relieve the Vice President from his duties, instead he could only hold back his delegated responsibilities to pave way for further investigation on the matter.
“His office is unique in that the constitution does not provide for his suspension or removal from it by the President, because he holds the office by the will of Malawian voters which I respect. As such, the best I can do for now which is what I have decided to do, is to withhold from his office all 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,” said President Chakwera.
It has been a long time coming that today had to be the day. The warning signs have always been there for Chilima. Apart from the mention on Sattar list, Chilima is also under the ACB radar which is investigating into how he managed to but almost 200 brand new vehicles for his party and recently it was also revealed that he has secretly stashed more than MK200 million into an Old Mutual Investment Account.
President Lazarus has been on record that he will not shield anyone involved in corruption and late last month gave ACB to furnish him with its own findings on those mentioned on the Sattar list promising Malawians that he will act.
Sattar is alleged to have bribed his was to land multibillion contracts from different government entities including the Malawi Defense Force (MDF).
The President has also fired Police Chief George Kainja and suspended his Chief of Staff Prince Kapondamgaga. The President, however, mentioned that while the report is clear on the Police Inspector General, it was not clear on how the Chief of Staff and another officer the Director of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (DPPDA) were involved in the corrupt practices.
Since he came to power President Chakwera has been a leading figure in the fight against corruption. His action today follows another one which he took in the past by removing three cabinet Ministers from his cabinet for allegedly being involved in different corruption scandals.