The supporters captured loafing outside Chilima’s residence
* They are not doing Chilima any favour but rather tarnishing and discrediting his earlier statement
* In which he had expressed willingness to be engaged as such
* “I admire how some people love individual politicians more than their country — this is what is killing Malawi as a country
* We love politics too much than development. Let the ACB do their job without any hindrance or intimidation from anyone
* UTM preaches zero tolerance for corruption, let ACB Director General Martha Chizuma do her job freely
By Duncan Mlanjira
Following reports that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) officers are scheduled to interrogate Vice-President Saulos Chilima to do with being implicated in the high corruption investigations involving Zunneth Sattar, some UTM youths and sympathisers have gathered outside their party president’s Area 43 residence in Lilongwe.
This demonstration in support of Chilima has attracted total condemnation and derision by the public since the Vice-President himself had a day earlier (Thursday) issued a public statement, saying the ACB had not confronted him with the said allegations of criminal conduct so that he has the opportunity of making representations on the same.
He had put it on record, that he “vehemently denies the allegations that have been leveled against him and will welcome the opportunity — at an appropriate time — of challenging the said allegations”.
Thus, the public pours scorn on the “overzealous” UTM Party supporters with Marcus Tigonegone Chavura opining that they are not doing Chilima any favour but rather tarnishing and discrediting his earlier statement in which he had expressed willingness to be engaged as such.
Samuel Simba expressed his derision, saying: “I admire how some people love individual politicians more than their country — this is what is killing Malawi as a country.
“We love politics too much than development. Let the ACB do their job without any hindrance or intimidation from anyone. UTM preaches zero tolerance for corruption, let [ACB Director General] Martha Chizuma do her job freely.”
McDad Saidi Banda said “Malawi will never develop with this attitude of ignorance” and that this is “the reasons we have been poor. “We try to shield and cover up individuals who have entangled in wrong doings. If he has a clean sheet in Sattar List, why trying cover him up?”
While Imran Ausman Yasseen said: “I don’t know how to describe it!!!the same people need government to fight corruption [and] when the government does what can help them, they come up to defend same [alleged] corrupt people.”
To which Jonathan Idani responded, saying Malawians have “a problem of loving individuals more than our own country’s development. How do you sympathize with a person who is under investigation? You don’t even know if he is innocent or not!”
Another commentator on social media took notice that the supporters must have been ferried by those close to the UTM leadership and expressed regret that “just yesterday [Thursday, Chilima himself] issued a statement indicating that he is yet to be questioned by ACB so that he can voice out his side of the matter. Today, he is assembling a bunch of fools to stop the same ACB from questioning him”.
To which Norton Gondwe Jnr responded to say “this is very wrong signal from the party which spoke against corruption”] during the presidential election campaign that ushered the UTM into government under the Tonse Alliance.
More comments kept filtering in on several other Facebook postings with the majority contemptuously indicating that Malawi is full of “people who love politics too much than development”, saying the “loyalty to politicians and not the country won’t help” in the development agenda of this nation.
“This is a clear indication of high levels of unemployment,” opined Danwell Kumwenda. “How can the youths on a working day like this be gathering at the so called place? My fellow youths — we can’t continue like this. Zitayeni izi.”
While Agie Tiza put forward the questions: “Do they really know what they are doing or they need someone to translate for them to what this is all about? Are they trying to obstruct the course of justice?”
Stanford Tsonga also hoped that the supporters should “let the rule of law take its course” and that Chilima “should clear his name if he is innocent”, while Hendrix Kajilase Saka wondered if the ACB were just waiting for the Vice-President to issue his statement in order to pay him a visit.
In his statement on Thursday, through his director of communications, Pilirani Phiri Chilima took note that when President Lazarus Chakwera sidelined him from any delegated duties while waiting for the ACB to substantiate its corruption allegations against him, “correctly observed” in his national address that “the Report does not present any detail of the alleged criminal conduct”.
Chilima said he found the manner in which the Bureau has proceeded as “very troubling”, stressing that the ACB has in essence accused him of a crime without providing any particulars or evidence in support of the crime”.
Says the statement: “The State Vice-President further finds it curious that, to date, the Bureau has not confronted him with the said allegations of criminal conduct so that he has the opportunity of making representations on the same.
“Instead a prejudicial one-sided public narrative has been sustained for months now which has invited public anger against the so called ‘mentioned’ individuals who helplessly watch their lives being ruined as they wait for the opportunity to voice their side of the story. There is profound sense of justice that is entirely lacking in this approach.
“For the record, the State Vice-President vehemently denies the allegations that have been leveled against him, and will welcome the opportunity — at an appropriate time — of challenging the said allegations.
“The State Vice-President wishes to state that while the Bureau’s efforts to fight corruption deserve the unwavering support of well-meaning Malawians, the fight must always be waged within the confines of the law.”
He further stresses that the investigation process “must not be abused for political or other objectives”, saying “one requirement of the law is that every person must be presumed to be innocent until a competent court of law finds them guilty, and further that accusations of criminality should be made within the space of judicial proceedings”.
“This enshrines that the fight against corruption remains a noble enterprise and does not descend into a discredited path of political witch-hunting.
“The State Vice-President wishes to state that he entered public service to serve the interests of Malawians, and that at no point has he ever been involved in any perverted or criminal scheme as suggested by the Bureau, or at all; nor has he ever deployed the office to which the people of Malawi entrusted him in aid of any perverted or criminal scheme.”
The Director of Communications emphasises that Chilima “remains confident that any due process initiated to test the scurrilous allegations now made against him would vindicate the hope Malawians placed in him and looks forward to that occasion”.