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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05LILONGWE438
2005-05-23 08:42:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Lilongwe
Cable title:  

EDUCATION MINISTER ARRESTED FOR CORRUPTION

Tags:   PGOV  KDEM  KCOR  MI 
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						UNCLAS LILONGWE 000438 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM KCOR MI
SUBJECT: EDUCATION MINISTER ARRESTED FOR CORRUPTION




1. On May 17 President Bingu wa Mutharika fired Education
Minister Yusuf Mwawa after Mwawa was charged with using
government funds for his own wedding reception. Earlier that
day, Mwawa was arrested and charged on four counts: theft by a
public servant, forgery, altering an official document, and
misuse of public office. Mwawa, who has denied the charges,
allegedly used a check meant for a cancelled official meeting
to pay for the $1,700 wedding reception at a hotel in
Blantyre, Malawi's commercial capital. He was granted bail
and released on the same day. His wife, who works for the
Vice President's press office, was present at the court.



2. COMMENT: This marks the first time that a sitting Malawian
government minister has been arrested for corruption, and it
sends a strong message about the president's zero-tolerance
stance on corruption. There is, however, a political aspect
to the case. Mwawa, a political holdover from the Muluzi
administration, was from day one an unlikely Mutharika ally.
Prior to the arrest, rumors abounded that charging Mwawa would
open a can of worms about previously unreported corruption
allegations in the Education Ministry. Mwawa, now with
nothing to lose, may be more willing to discuss the details,
and in all likelihood will seek retribution on his now-former
boss.
GILMOUR