Malawian president withholds VP from delegated duties

Malawian President, Lazarus Chakwera, announced on Tuesday the decision to withhold Vice President Saulos Chilima from any delegated duties following the latter’s alleged connection to a corruption report.

The Malawian leader also fired the country’s Inspector General of Police, George Kainja, and suspended the State House Chief of Staff, Prince Kapondamgaga, and Chairperson for the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority, John Suzi Banda, for the same reason. 

In a televised national address, the president disclosed that the report by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has named 84 public officers suspected of being bribed by a UK-based businessman, Zuneth Sattar, in exchange for government contracts. 

According to the president, the ACB has found that the Malawi Police Service and the Malawi Defence Force awarded 16 contracts worth over 150 million U.S. dollars to five companies belonging to Sattar between 2017 and 2021, but in some contracts, the government was defrauded by “unfairly high and inflated” prices of some equipment.

Among the 84 individuals alleged to have received money from Sattar in 2021, 13 have been “extensively” investigated for corruptly dealing with the said businessman, President Chakwera added. 

The Malawian Constitution did not mandate the president to suspend or remove the vice president, hence President Chakwera’s decision to withhold the vice president from delegated duties. The president said.

“The best I can do for now, which is what I have decided to do, is to withhold him from his (the vice president) office any delegated duties while waiting for the Bureau to substantiate its allegations against him and to make known its course of action in relation to such.” 

Meanwhile, President Chakwera has directed Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Colleen Zamba, to impose similar measures on all those implicated in the ACB report in different government ministries, departments and agencies. -Xinhua

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