ACB Director General Chizuma has been described as an Iron Lady
* Sattar, Batawalala, Ashok are just middlemen for Malawians of Asians origin’s mafia syndicate—Msonda
* As the corruption suspect’s defamation lawsuit attracts fierce outrage by concerned Malawians
* Airtel Money account No. 0995 117 777 opened to support Chizuma’s legal battle for standing up for justice for all the citizenry
* She is being sued in her individual capacity and therefore she has to hire a law firm
By Duncan Mlanjira
Political, economic and social rights activist, Ken Msonda has circulated a voice note on social media explosively imploring on Malawians to firmly stand up alongside Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General, Martha Chizuma, who has been sued by corruption suspect Ashok Kumar Streedharan for alleged defamation.
Msonda is also joined by senior citizen Krishna Achuthan Snr., who has circulated a message on social media that an Airtel Money account number 0995 117 777 has been opened to support “this brave lady, who stood up for Justice for all of us”.
Msonda beseeches on Malawians that they should not be taken to ransom by Ashok and his accomplices; Zunneth Sattar, Batawalala together with several associates in the United Kingdom and Malawi, who are being investigated in corruption charges which the ACB is conducting in collaboration with the British National Crimes Agency.
Mponda argues that these suspects, who are of Asian origins, should be treated as masquerading as Malawians since they possess dual citizenship yet they claim the United Kingdom as their home with Malawi as just a base to “steal” government money through illegal means.
He urged Malawians to support the UK government, which alerted Malawi authorities that they started investigating British nationals of Asian origin in UK — also holding Malawian citizen — after noting that these people are filthy rich there.
Msonda said what triggered the British to have strong suspicions of how these individuals acquired worth, it was discovered almost all of it originated from Malawi — a country that is ranked as one of the poorest in the world.
He hinted that Ashok, Sattar, Batawalala and their other accomplices under the British and Malawian radar are just middlemen acting on behalf of prominent members of a syndicate out to defraud Malawi through corrupt public procurement business dealings.
He impresses on Malawians that this syndicate is not just a war against Chizuma but against the whole country and if action is not taken to be up in arms in support of her, the country will continue to be plundered in the same systematic style of Ashok’s, Sattar’s and Batawalala’s alleged syndicate employed.
“Let us forget about our political differences; let us forget about our tribal and regional differences and stand in support to protect the office of the ACB because they are not just after Martha Chizuma but all Malawians,” he said.
He said the country is lucky that its leadership of President Lazarus Chakwera — including the past administrations of Bakili Muluzi, late Bingu wa Mutharika, Joyce Banda and Peter Mutharika — vows to fight corruption, the social and economic ill of this country.
Msonda assured the public that concerned Malawians have mobilized themselves to protect Chizuma and her office and implored on the legal system not to entertain any alleged corrupt individuals to seek court interventions.
He took cognizance that, yes, the legal counsels are in business and are enticed by huge sums of money to assist these corrupt individuals to defend them, but they should also consider that the money they would eventually be paid for their services is stolen from poor Malawians.
He urged them to apply wisdom and not just legal knowledge even though the law says one is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a competent court of law.
In his message to announce the creation of the Airtel Money account, Achuthan Snr. says this is a moment Malawians rose in support of Chizuma as she has been sued in her individual capacity and has to hire a law firm.
“Kindly contribute generously for this worthy cause. Let justice take its course. Please, dig deep into your pockets to save our democracy and free Malawi of the vultures of our taxpayers money.”
Another appeal from Joshua Chisa Mbele in protesting Ashok’s action to intimidate Chizuma, says “an injury to one is an injury to all. This Ashok Nair Sattar deserves a strong response from all Malawians who are fed up with the impunity, arrogance and sense of unfounded supremacy”.
“Munthu uyu sakudelera Martha Chizuma (this man is not just arrogant against Chizuma) alone but he is insulting our decency as Malawians. He is acting omnipotence. He is acting our God. He is taking our color of the skin, our short hair and economic status as subhumans and scums of the earth.
“In his eyes, we are idiots who can’t see, read and understand issues. It is therefore my proposition that we must mobilize mass demonstration to his house where he stays with his superior family and vigil to their offices in Area 3.
“Akatidziwe. Ifenso timudziwe. Munthu uyu awadziwe aMalawi amene atopa ndi Katangale. Ngati pali munthu amene akumupatsa mphamvu, munthuyo nayenso adzionere yekha kuti aMalawi can reclaim their dignity, nativity and sense of pride and superiority.
“This country is ours. This government is ours. These laws are ours. The resources being plundered are ours. Whatever is in this country belongs to us and our children. Tiyeni timenye nkhondo imeneyi.”
Ashok’s defamation lawsuit rrelates to the leaked audio clip that went viral on social media last month in which Chizuma alleged that there was an element of corruption when Ashok was released from custody on bail.
Ashok, who was arrested alongside former Minister of Lands, Kezzie Msukwa, over corruption charges in relation to some land issues in Lilongwe, were both released on bail after they sought court intervention.
A summons from Lilongwe District Registry of the High Court Civil Case No. 62 of 2022, indicates that Ashok is demanding damages from Chizuma allegedly for putting his “name in bad light” in the leaked audio which he argues that “he found demeaning to his character”.
“By the said words in their natural and ordinary meaning the defendant meant and was understood to mean that the claimant is an extremely corrupt person; that the claimant corrupted a Judge to have him released from custody”.
Ashok goes further to gain sympathy from the justice system by adding to the charges that Chizuma’s statement in the audio puts Ashok as being “so corrupt that the whole justice will not help” and that Ashok “is a criminal who has committed an offence punishable with imprisonment”.
The ACB arrested Msukwa and Ashok in relation to corruption investigation the Bureau is undertaking involving Zunneth Sattar. The ACB is investigating the case in collaboration with Britain’s National Crimes Agency — UK’s anti-corruption authorities — in relation to some deals with the government of Malawi.
In October, the British National Crimes Agency alongside ACB arrested Sattar together with several associates in the United Kingdom and Malawi.
The warrant of arrest for Msukwa said he was “reasonably suspected of having committed three counts of corrupt use of official powers contrary to section 25 (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act as read together with section 34 of the Corrupt Practices Act”.
Particulars of the offense are that between July and August 2021, in Lilongwe, Msukwa facilitated the sale of a land under his jurisdiction as Minister of Lands & Urban Development in Area 46 plot number 46/2057 to Sattar.
Sattar then bribed the Minister with K4 million and a Mercedes Benz C Class for the advantage of Msukwa’s associate Moses Kafunda.
Msukwa was also bribed K15 million through Sattar’s agent Ashok Sreedharan to buy land in Chipoka, Salima and Ashok was also charged of facilitating a K4 million bribe on behalf of Sattar for Msukwa to facilitate payment of duty at Malawi Revenue Aithority for the Mercedes Benz C Class bought for Msukwa for the benefit of Moses Kafunda.
Msukwa was since dismissed as Cabinet Minister by President Lazarus Chakwera paving way for the investigation but while the public expected the President to do the same on Chizuma — for breaching her Oath of Office following her serious misconduct of leaking inside information — he announced she was being retained.
His decision to maintain Chizuma was applauded by the public as well as the international partners as Chakwera had said he decided to keep her because she is “a person of great courage” in the fight against corruption.
The President reiterated that he appointed Chizuma because she has “the kind of courage needed to take on dangerous cartels of corruption that have milked our country dry for decades, including foreign ones that donate to us the crumbs leftover from the bread they steal from us”.