The cover up with contradictions, the President and Ministers knew before the news broke out
Ministers who were not aware of the arrest managed to mobilise themselves at around 7.30am yet the first post of Chizuma’s arrest were posted slightly after 7.41 according to our monitoring.
The Ministers did not learn from social media but according to our conclusion were aware of the arrest and the calls from the United Kingdom and United States diplomats must have prompted them to find plausible deniability.
Here is the contradiction;
The first posts appeared on Facebook and most on whatsapp group slightly after 7:41 but Ministers had met already almost 11 minutes earlier and the Commission of Inquiry reports that they only learnt through social media.
The report states as a matter of fact that Honourable Richard Chimwendo Banda, Minister of Youth and Sports, called for a meeting with seven (7) Ministers and present in the meeting were: Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo; Minister of Homeland Security Jean Sendeza; Minister of National Unity Timothy Mtambo; Minister of Transport and Public Works Jacob Hara; and Gospel Kazako Minister of Information and Digitalisation.
The report did not give the name of the seventh Minister.
The 7:30 meeting could not have been undertaken without the authority of the President, meaning the Head of State was well aware before most Malawians learnt of the arrest and this was a damage control meeting.
Surprise, surprise, at this meeting, Jean Sendeza, the Minister of Homeland Security, informed the other Ministers that she had earlier met the Deputy Inspector General for Administration Mr Happy Mkandawire and Deputy Inspector General of Police for Operations Mr Chalera and who confirmed of the arrest but did not give reasons for the arrest.
After the arrest of a high-profile Government official, Sendeza wants Malawians to believe she met the Acting Heads of Police but did not press them for reasons of the arrest. Sendeza told Parliament she was not aware of the arrest, yet alongside Mvalo had all attended a morning meeting on the same and she had met the Police.
Sendeza according to the Commission lamented she and the President should have been informed prior to the arrest, the Commission does not say what she had done after learning of the arrest as a Minister in charge of Police.
“In this meeting the Minister of Justice said he had spoken to the President who directed that the DG of ACB should be released without charge. The President’s directive was also confirmed to the Commission by the Deputy Inspector General of Police for Operations,” reads the report confirming that the Head of State had been briefed of the arrest.
As Diplomatic and local pressure including piled the MCP parliamentary caucus dispatched Mvalo, Eisenhower Mkaka and Sendeza to meet with the President on the arrest of the DG of ACB at 12:30 pm.
Mvalo told the Commission that the purpose of the meeting was to ensure that something visible and tangible was done about the issue. However, despite the efforts, the President would engage Malawians in hide and seek by only releasing findings and recommendations.
Donors threatened Chakwera with travel ban
President Chakwera who is now Malawi’s top frequent flyer was threatened with a travel ban and sanctions by the United States and United Kingdom diplomats forcing his hand to order the release.
“The Commission was informed by the AG that on the day of the arrest he was approached by the British High Commissioner and the US Ambassador on the arrest. The US Ambassador had demanded the unconditional release of the DG of ACB and that if this was not done, the US Government would subject the people involved in the arrest to travel bans, and impose economic sanctions on the country,” reads the report.
The USA in 2018 banned the then Chief Adviser to President Peter Mutharika, Uladi Mussa who was facing corruption charges.
The report says British High Commissioner asked that the Malawi Government should ensure that the Director General was released. It does not who in Government received the UK message.
The Investigator has asked both the UK and US missions for comments on their assessment of corruption in the Chakwera administration after the arrest of Chizuma. Both are yet to comment directly on our questions.
Chizuma’s case still on
Despite the statements and assurances from President Chakwera and his Justice Minister that the case against Chizuma is dead and buried, the Commission reports that those are mere wishes as Kayuni has refused to withdraw the complaint.
The Police Inspector General Merlyn Yolamu and her deputy Happy Mkandawire also contradict each other on the status of the case.
“The complainant Dr. Steven Kayuni informed the Commission that he had no reason to believe he would withdraw the complaint,” states the report throwing out all the sentiments that the case is over.
On part of the Police, the report reads, “The Inspector General of Police reported to the Commission that the case was stale, and while the record of the case would be preserved, no further action would be taken. The Deputy Inspector General of Police responsible for Administration informed the Commission that the case was ‘’still live’’ and that if instructed the Police would call back the DG of ACB.”
Mkandawire does not state who would “instruct” the Police as was in this case.
Mvalo wrote to the Speaker that Kayuni had withdrawn the case, which is not the case.
No credibility for the Commission
The report as legal experts have noted leaves more questions than answers, that its credibility is compromised as the Malawi Law Society rightly observes, “The Commission was required to zero in on the arrest not the conduct of the arrested.”
However, the Commission, which now has disgraced once respected members of Malawi society, appears like a botched cover up and nowhere near the truth Malawians expected.
President Chakwera announced that he will be making orders to keep “winning side” which might sound hollow after he attempted to hide one of the most badly done reports and inquiries in Malawi’s history.