Presidential Election Case: Judges Report Bribery Attempt, Malawi Anti-Graft Body Launches Manhunt

By Morton Sibale

The Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Director General, Leyneck Matemba has said  the nation should trust the graft-bursting body to do a thorough investigation into the alleged bribe attempt on the judges presiding over the May 21 2019 elections case.

He was speaking Tuesday in Lilongwe during a press briefing that the Bureau organized.

This followed media reports that Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda had formerly lodged a complaints with the Bureau that there was an attempt to bribe the five High Court judges presiding over the historical constitutional referral.

Matemba told the media that his body had already instituted investigations into the matter and that they would get to the bottom of the matter within a reasonable time in line with the pending judgment of the elections case.

“We have been doing our investigations for close to two weeks now. We are making progress but there is still work to be done. We don’t have a time frame but our aim is to investigate the matter in the shortest period of time possible,” the Director said.

Matemba refused to reveal the names of the people mentioned in the complaint, told the media that his body will suspend some of the bureaucratic processes that are involved in such investigations, to ensure that the matter is finalized in good time in line with the pending ruling.

“I will not reveal the names of the suspects because of legal reasons, but I want to assure Malawians that we will do our best.

We want Malawians to trust us that we will do a good job and show the nation that we can do a good job in fighting corruption,” he said.

Matemba, among others told the conference that he was first contacted by the Chief Justice on November 28, 2019 informing him that two of the five judges had approached him with complaints. 

The Chief Justice formerly lodged a complaint with the Bureau in a letter that was dated December 2, 2019.

In the letter, which Matemba read out during the presser, the Chief Justice informed the Bureau that the judges had informed him of having been contacted by someone who wanted to know if the judges had received the money another person had sent to the judges.

The Bureau then proceeded to contact the judges in mention and recorded their statements on December 28, 2019.

 However, Matemba could neither confirm nor deny if the Bureau had already reached out to the suspects in mention.

Malawi Law Society Honorary Secretary, Martha Kaukonde, whose organization had already written the Bureau to act on the issue in earnest, said they were relieved that the Bureau had started working on the issue.

“We wrote the ACB requesting that they need to start work on the issue and they have assured us that they’ve started work and we are glad. This gives confidence to the nation that they are doing something on the issue,” she said.

Reports have been awash on both social and traditional media that Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda had lodged a complaint with the graft-bursting body that there had been an attempt to bribe the judges that presiding over the 2019 presidential elections case.

Since the revelations, there have been calls from various sections of the society for ACB to quickly investigate the matter.