By Duncan Mlanjira
The public is appalled and dumbfounded at the news of yesterday’s arrest of former cabinet minister Henry Mussa for allegedly stealing computers and gensets at the Ministry of Information.
Mussa appeared in court this morning together with his accomplice, former director of information Gideon Munthali.
National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera says the two were charged with theft by servant of at least 10 computers and two gensets, which were donated to the Ministry by Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA).
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 MACRA requesting for the donation of the computers, tablets and gensets to be distributed to district information offices to bridge the communication gap which was there between the districts and the central information office.
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.
In his reaction to the news of the arrest on Facebook, Chifundo Balakasi was incredulous that a whole cabinet minister can steal government computers and described it as a big shame.
“Everything that defines DPP cadets is bad and [the former President Peter Mutharika] must be ashamed of himself in Mangochi for running a political party and a government of looters,” he said.
He intimated that Mussa “deserves to rot in prison for couple of years” if found guilty and it should be a lesson to anyone in this administration not to steal public property.
Kapyola Mtambalika prayed that this case will not take years to conclude to serve as a lesson to those in power now — “that the long arm of the law will catch up with them”.
Samson Phangire was astounded with the conduct of Malawian politicians and he also asked the courts to expedite the cases they have so far.
“For me, I’ll be happy to hear the that new administration has closed all the holes that were used to steal government resources so that anyone who comes in now won’t be able to steal again but leaving them like that, this stealing habit will continue.”
Francis Chilenga said he used to admire Henry Mussa as a smart politician but this development “is a shame. Power really corrupts”.
Idriss Ali Nassah said: “At 70 years of age, former Minister Henry Mussa is in police custody for the crime of stealing nine computers and three diesel generators donated to the Ministry of Information by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority.
“Police say one generator has been recovered from the former minister’s house.
“Upon conviction, Henry Mussa should serve his term at Chichiri Prison so that those going to Shoprite will see him working the fields outside the prison in his prison-issued white garb.
“That would be powerful civic education for all and a deterrent to others. Let us make good use of the DPP’s criminals to show our people the famed equalizing efficacy of the law.”