By Duncan Mlanjira
Former Minister of Information, Henry Mussa, who is was in police custody for allegedly stealing computers and gensets at his Ministry then, was granted bail on Monday morning together with his accomplice Gedion Munthali when they appeared in Lilongwe Magistrate Court.
Principal Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba granted the court bail court on condition that they surrender all travel documents to the police, report to the Central Region Police every fortnight and each to give K500,000 bail bond and present a surety of K250,000 each.
Mussa and Munthali, who was director of information in the Ministry, were on September 14, 2020 charged with two counts — abuse of office and theft by public servant after reports indicated that the two stole government property.
The items stolen were 10 HP desktop computers and 3 generators worth K11.5 million meant for district information offices.
The case has been adjourned to 20th October, 2020 when the two are expected to take plea.
According to a situation report of September 12 filed by Lingadzi Police Station, Munthali — in his capacity as director of information in 2017 — wrote a proposal to Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), requesting for the donation of the computers, tablets and gensets to be distributed to the district information offices.
The Lingadzi Police report says MACRA’s Board approved the proposal and on May 3, 2019, Munthali drove to Blantyre and collected the items of 10 HP desktop computers and three gensets.
“When [Munthali] collected the said items, the suspect alleges to have received an order from the then minister of information, Henry Mussa that he must keep such computers at his house and not at the office.
“On June 18, 2019, the suspect claimed to have received another order from this same political magnet to deliver nine computers at his then ministerial residence in Area 11/39 and that the remaining one computer set be his share.”
The case, according to Lingadzi Police, was brought to the attention of the law enforcers by Samuel Nankhuni, director of administration at the Ministry of Information & Communication Technology.
Lingadzi Police further said they recovered one genset at Mussa’s residence.
Meanwhile, media reports also indicate that also abused his office when he was minister of sports when he demanded that the artificial turf that was removed from Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre be taken to his residence.
This was despite the Ministry of Labour Youth, Sports and Manpower
Development recommending that the turf be installed at Zingwangwa Youth Crentre in Blantyre following a request by former Blantyre City South legislator Allan Ngumuya.
A letter from the Ministry dated March 9, 2018, signed by Principal Secretary Joseph Mwandidya and addressed to Ngumuya from which news was reported in the Weekend Nation, states that an approval was granted for the MP as per his request and to make an arrangement to collect the old artificial turf once it had been removed.
“Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your interest and offer towards development of sports and livelihood of the youth in the country,” the paper quotes the letter as saying.
The Weekend Nation reported that it had established that the turf is at Mussa’s residence in Mtupanyama Village, T/A Kadewere in Chiradzulu, which was being used as a mat and carpet during Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) functions in his area.
When the Weekend Nation contacted Mussa, he is reported to have confirmed that indeed he collected the turf, claiming it was discarded by Kamuzu Stadium management.
Asked if he followed procedures when obtaining the turf, Mussa maintained that “it was thrown away”.
“How can I follow procedures?” he is reported to have retorted. “Do you want it?…because ndikhoza kukugayilani [I can give you] part of it.”
The Weekend Nation reported that when contacted, the Ministry’s Principal Secretary expressed ignorance on the whereabouts of the turf.