Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera announced Wednesday that he has stopped delegating duties to vice president Saulos Chilima, who is alleged to have received money from corruption-accused businessman Zuneth Sattar.
Chakwera announced his decision after receiving a report from the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on investigations into Sattar, who is accused of giving bribes to public officers in exchange for securing government contracts.
A total of 53 current and former public officers received money from Sattar between March 2021 and October 2021, the president said. There are also 31 individuals from the private sector, media and civil society who allegedly received money.
The officers include those from Office of the President and Cabinet, Malawi Police Service, Office of the Vice President, State House, Reserve Bank of Malawi, ACB, the Malawi Broadcasting Station and various ministries, it is alleged.
Chakwera, however, said apart from Chilima, there is no other member of his cabinet who has been mentioned on the list.
The president added that the bureau has found that among the 84 individuals accused of receiving money from Sattar, there are 13 who have been extensively investigated and the bureau has concluded that they “conducted themselves corruptly.”
“In four of the 13 hold offices, I have some constitutional powers, namely the Vice President, the Inspector General of Malawi Police [George Kainja], the Chief of Staff for State Residences [Prince Kapondamgaga] and Chairperson of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority [John Suzi Banda],” said Chakwera.
Chakwera said the bureau did not provide any information on what Chilima, Kapondamgaga or Suzi did though it explained that Kainja was recorded discussing kickbacks with Sattar.
On action he is taking, Chakwera noted that the constitution does not provide for the suspension of the vice president or his removal from office by the president.
“As such, the best I can do for now, which is what I have decided to do, is to withhold from his 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,” he said.
Chakwera also announced the removal of Kainja as well as the suspension of Suzi Banda and Kapondamgaga.
Despite taking the action based on the report, the president described the bureau’s report as substandard work due to some gaps and absence of some information on the bureau’s next course of action.
“On a matter as serious and sensitive as this, Malawians deserve better,” said Chakwera.