Forum for National Development (FND) has raised an alarm that the National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) corruption case involving Newton Kambala, Enock Chihana and Chris Chaima Banda is being unnecessarily delayed thereby heightening concerns about attempts to shield President Chakwera who is implicated in the case.
FND has raised the concern after the court case was adjourned again when it was scheduled to be heard non-stop from the 17th January 2023 where the principal witness former NOCMA boss Helen Buluma was expected to present her damning evidence and to be cross-examined.
” We have noted that this case started dragging from the day the name of President Lazarus Chakwera was mentioned in the courts as being instrumental in the alleged corrupt deals. It seems there is an overdrive effort not to have this case concluded,”
FND says the delays are worrisome and are beginning to put a dent into the delivery of justice in Malawi with the aim to protect Chakwera.
” It seems that the justice system chooses and picks which cases to dispose of quickly while other cases continue to drag, prompting many observers, including us, to smell a rat, rotten rat for that matter, reads the statement.
In the last court session, the court ordered that the principal witness, Buluma, be subpoenaed to present evidence without fail effective 17 January, 2023.
” Now to hear that the matter has also been adjourned to unspecified dates it’s worrisome. We are cognizant of the fact that the adjournment might be a routine process and genuine, but the way this case has staggered and followed by corruption allegations spilled by Buluma when she appeared before the Public Accounts Committee, we are suspicious by the recent adjournment,” says the statement.
FND is also accusing the executive branch of government of colluding with the courts to cover up the corruption and sweep under the carpet the damning allegations raised by Buluma during PAC hearing.
It further says the conduct of the Attorney General (AG) Thabo Nyirenda who attempted to undermine Parliament, and members of the Executive including the Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) who are in contempt of Parliament.
” The two events which are interlinked has the President mentioned in the courts and interviewed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) being silent and not wanting to intervene on any members Forum for National Development of his government mentioned. So the said adjournment and further delay by the Judiciary in this matter hitherto the behavior of the Executive and Members of Parliament of Malawi,” the statement said.
FND has demanded that new dates be set for the case within the seven working dates so that there is proper and tangible direction and closure to this case.
“Accused persons have the right to clear their names and courts exist to expedite such processes and not to help in delaying justice. We demand expeditious action and progress in the next seven days failing which we will take a confrontational approach as further delays would be seen as an attempt to shield President Lazarus Chakwera,” the statement emphasizes.
Kambala, Chihana and Chaima Banda were arrested in 2021 over corruption allegations in importation of fuel at NOCMA.