Govt stuns ACB in Muluzi case, says its not ready
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Bruno Kalemba told the High Court in Blantyre Tuesday that the state was not ready with former President Bakili Muluzi graft case. However, prosecutors from the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) contradicted him, saying they were ready to proceed with the case in as far as they were concerned.
When all seemed to have been set, with Muluzi himself— donning in black suit, white shirt and grey necktie— sitting behind his defence team comprising lawyers Kalekeni Kaphale and Jai Banda, Kalemba stunned his ACB counterparts.
“I wish to advise the court that there have been developments in the ACB which have directly affected the composition of the team prosecuting this matter. “It is my decision in line with Section 99 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi that the prosecution team be reconstituted so that the matter can proceed to the best way possible.
“In light of that decision, it is my prayer that this matter be adjourned so that I am able to look at the file on how best to conduct the prosecution. In other words my Lord, the State is not ready to prosecute [today],” Kalemba said.
The development comes after ACB Director Alex Nampota was arrested in June for abuse of office and has since indicated he would not be able to proceed with the case.
In response, Kaphale did not object to the adjournment sought. He further said he had already written the court indicating he would be on a study leave from mid July hence would not available for court proceedings. While presiding Judge Maclean Kamwambe was writing down his determination on the matter, ACB Assistant Director David Nyamilandu rose from his seat, implicitly expressing that the ACB was ready.
“We understand the Constitution. Section 99 enables the DPP to take over matters. So, even if the ACB is prepared to proceed, our hands are tied in recognition of the DPP’s prayer for adjournment,” Nyamilandu said.
This puzzled Kaphale who described the development as being “out of turn”, to have the DPP and ACB speaking different languages in the matter yet they both belonged to the same prosecution side.
Kamwambe, while summoning both teams to his chamber, finally granted the adjournment as he said it was clear that both the prosecution and the defence team were not ready.
The matter has since been adjourned to run from October 8 to 26, 2012. Some of the sympathisers who escorted Muluzi to court included politicians George Nga Mtafu, Gerald Mponda, Kennedy Makwangwala and Moses Dossi,among others.
Unlike during previous court appearances, there were no UDF women clad in party cloth, lining up to give morale to their leader. The ACB dragged Muluzi to court in 2005 on charges of possession of unexplained property, diverting government funds into his personal account and the purchasing of vehicles worth K200 million while he was in power.
He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.