ACB urged to beef up legal team as arrests soar

Reyneck Matemba

Renowned legal expert, Sunduzwayo Madise, has suggested the need for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to hire more lawyers to help it in prosecuting some cases.

The development follows ACB Director General, Reyneck Matemba's confession that since regime change the bureau is overwhelmed with cases of corruption which they are investigating for possible prosecution.

Madise, a law professor at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi, says just like what the graft-busting body did in 2015 by hiring Enoch Chibwana and Kamudoni Nyasulu to help in prosecuting Cashgate cases, the same could be done now.

Sunduzwayo Madise
Madise: ACB is overwhelmed

"I don't think the ACB on its own has the capacity. Not that they cannot do it but they  have shortage in terms of human resources. If you recall the Cashgate cases, the state hired private prosecutors to help them. I remember they hired Enoch Chibwana and Kamdoni Nyasulu, the senior Counsel. The ACB should be overwhelmed by the nature of these cases and how diversity they were.

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"It is even worrying that the Cashgate cases that happened in 2012, 2013, 2014 and six, seven years down the line we still haven't completed them, that's not good. The rate of returning is not good so the state needs to consider hiring other lawyers to help them prosecute these crimes because people want the alleged stolen money recovered. So yes the ACB may need beefing up the team of lawyers," says Madise.

On the proposed, special tribunal to handles cases of corruption and theft, the law professor, says what are needed are resources for the judiciary to deliver.

"They have got a criminal registry may be they need to intensify them but they are already there. We don't need the special court, in my view because it might require them appointment of more judicial officers.

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"In our Constitution it is not clear when you can appoint acting judges [but] in the old Constitution you could have acting judges and that could have helped so that after these cases the acting judges could return back to whatever they were doing. But for now I think the High Court and Magisrates Court can still handle these issues. The issue is about resources, the government should give enough resources to the judiciary to make sure that these things are done," he says.

There was no immediate comment from the ACB, but President Lazarus Chakwera in his state of the nation address  last Saturday dislosed that he has instructed Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Titus Mvalo, to engage relevant stakeholders including the ACB, Police and Judiciary to find best ways of expediting corruption and theft cases that happened during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime.

It is reported that over one K1 kwacha was abused under DPP watch.

A number of high profile arrests have since been made including that of Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority CEO Collins Magalasi and former presidential security aide Norman Chisale.