The European Union has saluted President Dr Lazarus Maccathy Chakwera for firing Police Inspector General George Kainja who is embroiled in Sattar graft saga, saying this shows the State President is serious in the fight against corruption.
Chakwera on Tuesday fired Kainja after his name appeared on a list of corruption kingpin Zuneth Sattar as one of government officials who might have received money and other gifts to favour Sattar in government contracts.
Apart from Kainja, Vice President Saulosi Chilima is also one of the top profile individuals mentioned to have also benefitted from Sattar corruption activities.
The President, having his hands constitutionally tied to take fire or suspend his deputy, he has since withheld delegated duties to Chilima, effectively suspending him from duty over the same Sattar list report by the Anti-corruption Bureau.
The Secretary to the President and Cabinet to act on Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) chairperson Suzi Banda. However, the President said for the two, the ACB report has not been clear on their involvement in the corrupt activities.
The EU Ambassador to Malawi, Rune Skinnebach said on Tuesday in Mzuzu that the firing of Kainja by Chakwera is a clear indication that now the President is very serious about fighting corruption.
Skinnebach said this after interacting with journalists from the Nyika Media Club.
She said although the firing of the IG alone is not enough but at least there is an achievement in the fight against corruption which is deeply rooted in the country and requires people’s mindset to be changed.
Skinnebach has therefore challenged journalists to report more on corruption which he said has crippled some essential services in the country such as health, education and infrastructure development.
In his remarks, Nyika Media Club Chairperson Joseph Mwale commended the EU envoy for supporting journalists through capacity building trainings on various socioeconomic endeavours.
“It is very important for the EU Ambassador to interact with the media who contributes significantly to the integral part of the country’s development,” Mwale said.
The Sattar ACB report says for four years between 2017 and 2021, the Malawi Police Service and the Malawi Defence Force awarded 16 contracts worth over US$150 million to five companies belonging to Sattar.
It also says a total of 53 public officers and former public officers allegedly received money from Mr. Sattar, another set of 31 individuals from the private sector, the media, civil society, and the legal fraternity also received money from Mr. Sattar, bringing the total of those on the Bureau’s list to 84.
Among the 84 individuals who allegedly received money from Mr. Sattar in 2021, the ACB report says, there are 13 that the Bureau says have been extensively investigated to the point of concluding that they conducted themselves corruptly in dealing with the businessman.
“The Bureau has found that beyond the 84 individuals who allegedly received money from Mr. Sattar in 2021, his associate also kept a record of all the persons who allegedly received money from Mr. Sattar from 2008 to 2020 but the report does not include any of the names of those found in the 14 ledgers that contain this information,” reads the report in part.
The report says ledger books confiscated from Mr. Sattar’s associate include donations to politicians from all major political parties in the country.
President Chakwera says that Sattar’s corrupt activities were deeply entrenched and it has affected a number of sectors.
The report says public officers from Malawi Defence Force (MDF), Malawi police, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Office of President and Cabinet, Office of the Vice President, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Judiciary, ministry of Finance, Ministry Information, ministry Tourism, Homeland Security, allegedly received bribes from Sattar between March 2021-October 2021.