Chakwera and Chilima at a charity golf tournament last month
* The President removed Chilima claiming the investigations on corruption against him were concluded and compelling
* The ACB disowned claims that Chilima was under investigations
* The Bureau declared that the investigations were still ongoing and not conclusive enough to trigger any action then
* What is his charge and why has it taken this long to convict the Vice-President?
By Duncan Mlanjira
Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) says President Lazarus Chakwera has on many times told and assured Malawians that he will only remove or dismiss anyone only if there is compelling evidence against such a person.
And yet, Chakwera removed his Vice-President, Saulos Chilima, “claiming that the investigations on corruption against him were concluded and compelling and that the wheels of justice are to roll soon”.
In a statement issued today, November 4, CAMA’s Executive Director, John Kapito says the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) “disowned” claims that Chilima was under investigations which the Bureau declared that the investigations were “still ongoing and not conclusive enough to trigger any action then”.
Thus Kapito questions what was the reason for removing him what exactly triggered Chakwera to remove the Vice-President “if it was not just a way of getting him removed for other ulterior motives”.
“The State President simply lied about his Vice-President and where is such evidence against the Vice-President if the investigations against him were conclusive.
“What is his charge and why has it taken this long to convict the Vice-President? Where did the President draw his powers to charge and convict his Vice?”
Kapito added that Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe and his deputy were removed “on a serious matter that requires thorough investigations by competent authorities — a matter that involves many Government Agencies and Ministries, including the State House who might have been accomplices in these dubious transactions”.
He maintains that the alllegations against Lowe and his deputy need “an independent forensic professional investigators, supported by the Parliamentary Committees to carry out thorough investigations into the illegal Affordable Input Program (AIP) dubious procurement transactions”.
“President Chakwera is panicking as most of the corruption cases are involving his personal close friends and family and he is facing challenges on how to address these ever occurrences of corruption cases that are to a large extent also linked to him as his name keeps on coming up in all the transactions.”
Kapito further addressed Malawians that they “should not expect President Chakwera to fix the current economic and social challenges facing them on daily basis”, adding that it has become very clear that “Chakwera has no capacity to fix these challenges”.
“President Chakwera has no idea or clue about what to fix; he is a man of words and not action; he promises a lot; he confuses the art of making promises at church gatherings from those at political rallies.
“The President comes from a background where his entire life he promised people heaven and none held him accountable and nor demonstrated against him.
“He believes he can do similar promises in politics with no deliverables and we hope now he understands that the landscape is totally different — people are demanding deliverables from the many promises he has been making.”
He continues to describe Chakwera as a leader who has “no economic or social plan to stimulate the economy”, adding that he “has made many and keeps on making unrealistic promises now”.
“Even at a time when it’s obvious that his ship is sunk and people are asking from where he gets all these funny unrealistic promises that he makes — and he is never short of them — and is never ashamed at making these promises.”
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa has advised Chakwera against travelling to Egypt in order to concentrate on domestic matters.
Chakwera is scheduled to travel to Sharma El-Sheikh, Egypt, where he is expected to attend the 27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from Monday November 6-10.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Nankhumwa said suspending the trip could help the country to save the forex supposed to be used for the entire trip to address fuel and medicines challenges.
“There are so many challenges Malawians are facing which need urgent attention. Malawians are looking for solutions,” he said.
Nankhumwa also proposed a cabinet dissolution and appoint a lean cabinet with less than 18 members, reduction of presidential advisors and motorcade to save taxpayers money.
When it was announced of Chakwera’s plans to travel to the travel to the US for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Malawians, including, CAMA, the civil society organisation and former President Peter Mutharika advised the President from travelling in the middle of an economic crisis in Malawi, saying the cost of travel for his and his entourage was very high.
After his return, Malawi’s Catholic Bishops also condemned the government for undertaking the trip in their Pastoral Letter released last month.
After his return, there were revelations on social media that over US$21,000 was being spent on allowances per day for the UNGA delegation of 37 people, who were receiving US$560 (about K580,000) each per day in allowances with ministers receiving US$900 (nearly K1 million) per day for 24 days.
The reports said normally, many members of Chakwera’s delegation were supposed to receive US$280 (about K290,000) per day and ministers were required to receive US$450 (about K465,000) per day but the allowances were doubled because of a rise in cost of living in New York.
But Chakwera defended the trip, saying he successfully secured a Rapid Credit Facility that will inject US$88 million into the economy, including US$350 million from the US Government for the construction of roads.
He also said he went to Europe to negotiate a €125 million package of support for Malawi, saying “all these trips abroad were in pursuit of resources Malawians need, and I want to thank all of you who supported my decision to press on, because that is what national unity looks like”.
But Kapito maintained that Chakwera spent too long in the US — close to 25 days — leaving behind an economic crisis and at a time Malawians needed his leadership to address the serious economic and social challenges the economy was going through.
“The President with his large delegation took and swept almost every dollar available on the market for activities that he could have conducted with a small number of people for a shorter period considering the cost implications of the trip,” he had said.