Friday, July 12, 2024

Professor Kamchedzera Slams ACB’s Sloppy Handling of Matemba Charges


Professor of Law from University of Malawi’s school of Law, Economics and governance, Professor Garton Kamchedzera has slammed the country’s graft busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for unprofessionally changing the charges which they laid on former Solicitor General Reyneck Matemba.

Initially, Matemba was alleged to have received $10,000 from a British businessperson Zuneth Sattar to influence contacts for his companies.

According to the new charge sheet, Matemba is now being accused of failing to declare his interest in a board meeting which reviewed and granted a no objection for the Malawi Police Service’s food ration contract worth $7,875,000.00 to Xaviar Limited for the delivery of 350,000 ration packs despite having knowledge that the director of Xaviar Limited was Zuneth Sattar, known as Josan or K, who was his close associate and had a direct interest in the said contract.

The charge sheet says Matemba failed to declare his interest and vetted the contract while working as a public officer as an ex- officio board member of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) by virtue of his appointment as a Solicitor General and Secretary to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs on or around, June 5 2021, at Makokola retreat in Mangochi District.

The disclosures that we have seen include the evidence received by the ACB from the National Crimes Agency (NCA).

The disclosures include statements and evidence received from NCA’s senior officers Mark Reeves and Jonathan David Meredith.

Before the amendment of the charges, Matemba was charged with one count of corrupt use of official powers contrary to Section 25 (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act.

ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala has described the changes as normal.

“It is normal for ACB to revise charges to any accused person,” Ndala said.

In a press statement that Ndala signed last year, the bureau said its investigations had established that Matemba, corruptly received $10,000 as an advantage in the vetting process of the contract.

According to Kamchedzera, the change of charges means the Bureau did not get the material facts and the applicable law correctly the first time.

“This may be indicative of low investigative skills capacity and wanting legal analytical prowess at the Bureau,” Kamchedzera said.

On his part, Matemba who is representing himself in the case said it is the ACB that arrested and charged him on allegations that he had received a bribe of $10,000 from Zuneth Sattar, and it is the same ACB that has dropped those bribery charges.

“You may therefore ask them what has changed now for them to suddenly drop the charges after over a year of publicly announcing to the people of Malawi and beyond that I had received a bribe from Zuneth Sattar.

“As you speak to ACB, please convey this free and unsolicited advice — ‘Do not rush to arrest people before you complete your investigations, or, at the minimum, before you gather some credible evidence that will enable you prove your allegations in a court of law, and not in a court of public opinion,’” Matemba said.

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