According to reports from Malawi, President Lazarus Chakwera has stripped the country’s vice-president, Saulos Chilima, of his duties and powers.
The development is coming a few days after documents linking Mr. Chilima to a $150million corruption scandal involving government contracts. The document was released by the Anti-Corruption Bureau of Malawi, in which it named 53 high-ranking political officials, including the vice-president, who were involved in the scandal.
The accused were said to have received huge sums of money from British-Malawian businessman Zuneth Sattar between 2017 and 2021 to help facilitate government contracts. Over the period, a total of 16 high-profile contracts were awarded to five companies owned by Mr. Sattar.
The head of police in the country was also indicted in the corruption scandal, and the president has since sacked him from office, upon hearing the news. However, the constitution forbids the president from sacking the vice-president, but can restrict his powers.
“The best I can do for now, which is what I have decided to do, is to withhold from his office any delegated duties while waiting for the bureau to substantiate its allegations against him,” the president said in a national address yesterday.
You will recall that upon assuming office in June 2020, the president swore to eradicate corruption from the country.
In August last year, he sacked the country’s energy minister, Newton Kambala, and ordered this arrest along with two others on corruption charges. The energy minister and his accomplice were trying to influence oil contracts in the country.
Also, in February 2021, President Chakwera expressed his outrage at the alleged abuse of $8 million meant for providing Covid-19 palliatives by top government officials.
The president fired the heads of several entities responsible for managing the Covid-19 funds after failing to account for how the funds were utilized.
“All cluster heads, with the exception one, submitted reports with no backing documents and had to be told on-site to bring backing documents,” Chakwera said.
“Mind you, these are reports of money that was mostly spent last year, whose backing documents ought to have been maintained regularly, and yet cluster heads appeared before my taskforce showing clear signs of negligence.”
This is not the first time that Mr. Saulos Chilima, who has been vice-president of Malawi since 2014, under successive governments, has been stripped of his powers.
In 2018, the former president of Malawi, Peter Mutharika, ordered the sack of decision to sack Vice President Saulos Chilima in what it said was a cabinet reshuffle to clean the government from corruption.
But critics accused the former president of abusing his powers, saying it was against the constitution. Many also argued that Mr. Mutharika had political motives against the vice-president, who was seen as a threat to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the forthcoming elections.
Mr. Mutharika would then go ahead to strip the vice-president of his security attachment and duties.
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