By Chancy Namadzunda:
Attorney General, Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has changed tune on a 60-day amnesty granted to all those who might have corruptly accumulated wealth through dealings with amongst others businessman Zuneth Sattar.
In an earlier statement, Chakaka Nyirenda said a ‘general’ amnesty was granted to those who might have defrauded Government or illicitly acquired wealth whether through procurement fraud and corruption or otherwise, but willing to restitute or voluntarily surrender the said wealth within 60 days from the date hereof.
“The amnesty extends to the 77 Cashgate files that are currently before the prosecution authorities, the commercial banks that facilitated Cashgate and to the investigations connected with Mr. Zuneth Sattar,” said Nyirenda.
However, he changed tune on Monday when he faced the media in Lilongwe saying the amnesty will not be applied to some sections of people, like cabinet ministers.
Chakaka Nyirenda was accompanied by Director of Prosecutions Steven Kayuni and Minister of Information Gospel Kazako.
Chakaka has also said the amnesty would only work for those that have shown genuine remorse and those already convicted will not benefit.
“The amnesty will not involve those who the state has overwhelming evidence against or kingpins of corruption. He has cited indiviuals such as Zuneth Sattar, Karim Batatawala and Zameer Karim as among those who will not be considered for amnesty,” he said
Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said it is yet to make a decision on the 60-day amnesty, although the AG said it is not aimed at stopping the graft busting body from investigating or prosecuting suspects.
In a statement signed by Principal Public Relations Officer Egrita Ndala, ACB said it is currently reviewing the Attorney General’s press release on Amnesty in the context of the investigations it is currently conducting on allegations against Sattar and will update the public on any decision it may take.
“As members of the public may be aware, the Anti-Corruption Bureau in cooperation with the National Crime Agency, UK is investigating allegations that Zuneth Sattar, a British citizen and Permanent Resident of Malawi has been offering and giving bribes to Politically Exposed Persons in Malawi to obtain public procurement contracts.
“On Sunday, 9th January, 2021, through social media, the Bureau came to know about the above-mentioned Press Release regarding Zuneth Sattar. The last paragraph of the press release seems to suggest that the Attorney General is granting 60-day amnesty to all those who might have corruptly accumulated wealth through dealings with amongst others Zuneth Sattar.
“The Bureau has received numerous inquiries on the matter from various journalists and the public. The Bureau would therefore, like to inform the public that it is currently reviewing the Attorney General’s press release on Amnesty in the context of the investigations it is currently conducting on allegations against Zuneth Sattar and will update the public on any decision it may take. In the meantime, the Bureau as per its legal mandate is proceeding with the investigations against Zuneth Sattar,” reads the statement
In a related development, the AG has also debarred companies belonging to Zameer Karim, who is on trial for the food rations scandal at Malawi Police Service. The case is ongoing at the Chief Resident Magistrate’s Court in Lilongwe.
“The contract to supply food rations at Malawi Police Service violated the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act as well as the Corrupt Practices Act.
“In view of the foregoing, I advise that all companies owned by and all the companies associated with or connected to Zameer Karim, including the following companies: [Pioneer Investments and Oil and Protein Limited] should not be allowed to conduct business with government or any government entity,” the AG said in a statement dated December 15 2021.
Last month, after the AG debarred some companies, the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) director general Edington Chilapondwa said debarment is a long process.
Under Section 20 of the PPDA Act, the institution’s director general, after reasonable notice to the bidder or supplier, and after providing reasonable opportunity for that bidder or supplier to be heard and consultation with the affected procuring entities, may exclude a bidder or supplier from participation in procurement for the misconduct prescribed in this Act and the Regulations, in accordance with procedures set out in the Regulations