Plans by Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to prosecute former President Bakili Muluzi over graft charges are generating controversy. The anti-corruption body is reportedly preparing to prosecute the former president for allegedly siphoning over 11 million dollars of donor funds earmarked for developmental activities and depositing such funds into his private account. But former President Muluzi said the charges are politically motivated. He said he is ready to fight the charges in court to prove his innocence. Justin Dzonzi is the chairman of the Malawi Human Rights Consultative Committee. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the commercial capital, Blantyre that the timing of the former president’s prosecution is questionable.
“Strictly speaking, it will appear perfectly alright for the Anti-Corruption Bureau to go after any person in Malawi who it has reasonable belief might have committed an offense. But what would be challenging would probably be the history of the matter that it is not necessarily a new matter. It’s a matter which has be coming before court several times, it is also a matter over which the former head of state was briefly arrested, briefly charged for that offense, and then he was subsequently released. And the director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau dismissed and the director of prosecution who has discontinued the case also dismissed. So it’s just the circumstances surrounding the whole case, which may dent the good intentions which the Anti-Corruption Bureau might have in pursuing the matter at this stage,” Dzonzi pointed out.
He said supporters of former President Muluzi might feel let down by the Mutharika government’s decision to prosecute the former president.
“My view is that not necessarily. But one must accept that obviously the former head of state has supporters who may actually feel betrayed by the current move as if it’s a political gimmick. So there would be certain sections of the Malawian society, which would be disenchanted by the whole thing and probably, think that it’s a political witch-hunt. But I think we must also accept that Malawi is a big country and there are a lot of people who support various politicians so it may not necessarily lead into chaos. But it will certainly get into certain political perceptions that the former head of state is simply being persecuted,” he said.
Dzonzi described as pure speculations news suggesting that the prosecution of the former president is a calculated attempt to stop the former president’s plan to run for another term despite exhausting his two consecutive terms in office.
“The challenge with that theory is that it is based on speculation. And it’s extremely difficult for me to render weight in fact on this theory or any other theory. What I may say is simply that it is the timing and the coincidence of the political development is so strong that people can draw conclusions one of which could be it is a political tactic of dislodging him from pursuing the dreams of bouncing back…so you wouldn’t blame anybody for thinking otherwise,” Dzonzi noted.
Meanwhile, supporters of former President Muluzi are accusing President Bingu Wa Mutharika’s government of attempting to thwart Muluzi’s controversial decision to run as presidential candidate for the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF).