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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04LILONGWE881
2004-09-13 14:10:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Lilongwe
Cable title:  

MALAWI ANTI-CORRUPTION CHIEF REPLACED

Tags:   ECON  KCOR  EINV  PGOV  MI 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LILONGWE 000881 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/S ADRIENNE GALANEK
STATE FOR EB/IFD/ODF MARLENE BREEN
STATE FOR EB/IFD/OMA FRANCES CHISHOLM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/10/2014
TAGS: ECON KCOR EINV PGOV MI
SUBJECT: MALAWI ANTI-CORRUPTION CHIEF REPLACED

REF: LILONGWE 839

Classified By: Econoff William Taliaferro for reasons 1.5 b and d

-------
SUMMARY
-------



1. (U) President Bingu wa Mutharika has unexpectedly replaced
the director of Malawi's Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB). This
move comes as a commision report on corruption at the state
agricultural monopoly was released and a key witness in that
and another high-profile scandal has disappeared. Mutharika
continues to highlight anti-corruption efforts as a
centerpiece of his administration, and he appears to be
beefing up the ACB to deliver convictions on politically
sensitive cases. End summary.




--------------------------


Invitation to a Firing


--------------------------





2. (C) According to a well-placed source in the ACB,
President Mutharika summoned Justice H. M. Mtegha, director
of the ACB, to a meeting Friday, September 3. There he
offered him the position of deputy at the Malawian mission to
the UN. Mtegha declined the job, citing his wife's poor
health. Mutharika then offered him the post of high
commissioner in Tanzania, which he also declined. Perhaps
beginning to understand the purpose of the meeting, Mtegha
then expressed a desire to go back to the Malawian high
court. While Mtegha was still in the room, Mutharika then
asked an aide to contact Gustave Kaliwo about Mtegha's job at
ACB.



3. (C) Mutharika offered no reason for replacing Mtegha, but
more than one source, including one at the ACB, has told us
Mtegha backed off from at least one politically sensitive
case at the behest of then-President Bakili Muluzi. The ACB
source indicated that this was the most likely reason for
Mtegha's sacking. Generally, though, the ACB under Mtegha's
leadership had a reputation as the most aggressive player--or
at least not the bottleneck--in fighting corruption.



4. (U) Kaliwo, Mtegha's replacement, is coming to the job
from private practice, where he has prosecuted several cases
on behalf of ACB, and from a previous career as the first
lawyer appointed to Malawi's police force. He appears to fit
the mold of other Mutharika appointments in being
technocratic: technically competent and without compelling
political connections. The appointment may increase the
independence of the already relatively independent ACB.




--------------------------


Divining Intentions: It's All in the Timing


--------------------------





5. (U) The timing of the change is interesting in itself.
The ACB is preparing several already public cases involving
former ministers of the Muluzi regime (see reftel). A week
ago, the government released its official report on the 2002
"maize scam," in which former finance minister Friday Jumbe
is accused of selling subsidized maize at a profit during a
famine, with the knowledge of Muluzi. Peter Mulamba, a key
witness in that and another high-profile case, has recently
gone missing and is feared to be dead. The chairman of the
commission investigating the scandal has reportedly received
death threats and has had one person arrested for threatening
him in person. The Mulamba disappearance has distracted
Parliament's budget session as members have demanded an
official investigation.



6. (U) Meanwhile, Mutharika is continuing to build popular
support for his government on two issues: fiscal
responsibility and control of corruption. In his budget
speech on August 30, Mutharika promised "action, action, and
more action" in fighting corruption. His newly appointed
director of public prosecutions, Ishmael Wadi, has been
grabbing headlines by naming the targets of investigations
and pending prosecutions. Several senior UDF officials have
been arrested for corruption and other crimes. In essence,
Mutharika appears to be building momentum--and pressure--for
his government to convict senior officials of the Muluzi
administration.




--------------------------


Comment: Does It All Add Up?


--------------------------





7. (C) To all appearances, replacing the ACB director is
another step in building an independent, technically
competent team to prosecute politically sensitive corruption
cases. The ACB has told us privately that it intends to go
after the former chief of state. But Mutharika owes his
presidency to Muluzi, and it is Muluzi who cobbled together
Mutharika's governing coalition. Added to which, Muluzi
seems strangely untroubled about the threats being made
against him and his cronies (though the same cannot be said
for the cronies, who are protesting vigorously in the press).
Most international observers, and many Malawians, are
remaining cautious for the time being; they are unlikely to
celebrate the beginning of the end of corruption before the
Mutharika administration delivers its first important
conviction.

RASPOLIC