Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Is Justice closing in for Muluzi?

The President of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, did something beyond and above the call of duty. Many people thought that he would not deal with his predecessor, Bakili Muluzi over graft scandals such as allegedly diverting over $ 10, 000,000 from donor monies to his personal accounts. Many wrongly thought that Mutharika would cower before Muluzi as happened in neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania where current potentates allied with their predecessors to cause harm to their economies in lieu of bringing them to book.

As per Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) Public Relations Officer, Egrita Ndala, some 44 vehicles out of 149 Muluzi is believed to own, Keza Office Park and all bank accounts were seized. Among the accounts ACB seized, is account number 0141035074200 at Zomba National Bank where some 23 organisations and individuals deposited various amounts during Muluzi’s tenure of office.

Muluzi’s lawyers are tirelessly fighting to stop this purge against their customer to no avail. In his attempt to get away with it, in April this year, he chose his wife as his party presidential candidate after his attempt to stand again was foiled by the court. Recently ACB attempted to seize more of Muluzi’s properties. But it hit a snag, for, it came to light that some properties had already changed hands or being registered under other people's names. This took the ACB officials by surprise. The fleet of posh vehicles at Muluzi’s BCA residence that include, Range Rover, Land Rover Discovery, Lexus Cruiser, Bentley, several Mercedes Benz cars and Nissan Patrol among others for example, are registered in former first lady Dr. Patricia Shanil Muluzi’s name. Surprisingly, Muluzi’s wife seems to own many more vehicles than her husband-but again, will Mr. and Mrs. Muluzi substantiate how she acquired this massive wealth ?

Once again, one can see how Africa’s carbuncular and thieving rulers use their wives, relation and foreign criminals to hide their wealth. Muluzi used Mohamed Munif Al-Nadhi just like Daniel Moi used Kamlesh Pattni; Mkapa used Sailesh Vithlani; Jacob Zuma used Schabir Shaik; Yoweri Museveni used Mahendra Mehta or Jakaya Kikwete used Rostam Aziz to rob public coffers.

Will ACB also seize Lonrho buildings standing on plots LE 212, LE 459, LE 371 and LE 211A, in Limbe formerly owned by Muluzi as they did with Keza office park? In a twist of events, Muhomed Munif Al-Nadhi claims to be the owner of Keza Office Park that is said to have been sold off by Muluzi but without disclosing when the same was sold.

ACB must seize more of Muluzi’s hidden properties. A little bird confided in me that there are some properties hidden in Tanzania. One MP and Muluzi’s confidant, John Komba mans two of Muluzi’s secondary schools of which one is named after Muluzi himself. Some Tanzanian newspapers once asked the rationale for Muluzi to build schools in affluent Tanzania whilst he ignores to do so in Malawi that needs those schools the most. Given that the Tanzanian media is not independent, the story died after a reprimand.

To easily hoodwink Malawians and donors, Muluzi established Malawi Social Action Fund (MASAF) that was later aped by Mkapa so as to become Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF). This outfit was closely manned by Muluzi’s consigliore and confidants something that enabled him to easily swindle public money as it happened with Mkapa in Tanzania where he’s currently facing calls for prosecution alongside his wife for robbing public funds and properties chief one being Kiwira Coal Mine in south Tanzania. Much of MASAF money ended up benefiting the president’s strong hold. The case is the same in Tanzania where TASAF invested heavily in the southern region where Mkapa hails from and North where the former PM, Fredrick Sumaye hails from.

Muluzi and Mkapa ought to accept a legal process as happened in Zambia where former ruler Fredrick Chiluba stood the test of time by being duly exonerated in lieu of stonewalling himself behind far-fetched immunity. This, apart from proving democratic maturity, sets records straight despite the shock as to how Chiluba’s conspirators would be jailed as he was set free. Chiluba ceases to be a reference point as far as corruption in power is concerned. However, many questions still beg answer regarding the amount he actually stole on top of his wife’s conviction that still taints his reputation.

As for corrupt African former thieves-in-chief, it is time for them to face the consequences. Today, you may indifferently sit on your predecessors’ cases. But tomorrow, somebody will make sure that no stone will be left unturned.
Source: The African Magazine August 26, 2009.

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