Complaints flood ACB after regime change

Reyneck Matemba
  • ACB boss used personal money to investigate judges bribery case

  • It was organised suppression by the past govt to deny ACB enough funding- analyst

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has disclosed that complaints have been flooding  its offices for the past 12 days following change of government.

ACB Director, Reyneck Matemba, who said is aware of the suspected corrupt dealings and abuse of office that happened in the run up to June 23 presidential election, has since promised Malawians that the issues raised will be thoroughly investigated for prosecution.

Matemba disclosed this on Sunday during an  interview on a local radio station, Zodiak.

"As the ACB we have offices in Mzuzu, Lilongwe and Blantyre and we rely on Malawians to provide necessary evidence for our action.

"Let me thank Malawians that for the past 11, 12 days we have been receiving a lot of tips on suspected corrupt dealings and abuse of public offices let them continue. All these messages they are providing to us are being followed up for action," he says.

The ACB boss expressed optimism that the Tonse-led government will provide necessary support to fight corruption saying there is political will from the state president, Lazarus Chakwera and his deputy, Saulosi Chilima.

"If you remember well the President's inauguaral speech at Kamuzu Barracks, he mentioned law enforcement agencies or governance institutions, but there are two oversight institutions that he emphasised on-Parliament and the Anti-Corruption Bureau. So it was something that brought pride in us and revatilised our efforts," says Matemba.

He then alleged that previous regimes failed to properly fund the bureau to the extent that some officers have been using their personal resources to investigate cases.

"In the past I used to avoid talking about the money, buy there are some unique complaints or allegations that demand immediate action for fear of suspects destroying evidence. So if we are poorly funded that also affects our investigations. 

"For example, I was forced due to public pressure to use my personal money to investigate the case involving Thomson Mpinganjira for attempying to bribe High Court Judges. If we were to tell Malawians that we had no money that could have attracted public uproar. As I am speaking I haven't been refunded and you can check with the Accountant General there are records that you can verify," he says.

However, Matemba declined on ethical grounds to disclose if he has already met or talked to president Chakwera on the fight against corruption.

He then backed his decision to stop some people in government from changing ownership of properties like vehicles, houses and land saying they suspect foul play hence an order to halt the process for investigations to take place.

"This is no the first we made such an order to stop the process. In 2013 to 2018, a period covering give years we did the same due to cashgate because some suspects were using the money to buy plots, vehicles and also houses. People might be surprised now why we have also made similar orders, I will be frank here. Most of the times when regime has changed or where there is transition, a lot of things happen and this behavior was noted around 15,16 and 17 June. We couldn't just watch the malpractices without taking necessary measures to stop suspected fradulant dealings involving cars, plots and houses," says Matemba.

Meanwhile, political analyst, Wonderful Mkhutche,  has accused the immediate past government of the Democratic Progressive Party of deliberately under funding ACB to suppress it's operation.

"The  interview exposed an organised suppression of efforts to fight against corruption by the past Government by not adequately funding ACB. The bureau has capable people who can help root out corruption in Malawi, but political interference had rendered it ineffective, and this is unfortunate. This is a call to the new government to adequately fund ACB since the Government is on a drive towards fighting the vice.

"There are cases which have stalled and these were systematically suppressed. All these need to be revitalised for the nation's good. It will eventually be interpreted as witchhunting by some people, but the truth of the matter is that for all who were involved in corruption, they have to be answerable," says Mkhutche.

Recently, social media has been awash with reports of corruption at public institutions like the Malawi Revenue Authority and Escom among others, but authorities are yet to react to these allagations.

Over the weekend, the ACB made arrests of a top official at MRA Rosa Mbilizi.