In a case of the hunter becomes the hunted, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) yesterday arrested its former director general Reyneck Matemba on suspicion that he received bribes from United Kingdom-based businessperson Zuneth Sattar.
The graft-busting body also arrested private practice lawyer and former Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) board chairperson John Suzi-Banda for an alleged similar offence.
In a statement, signed by the bureau’s spokesperson Egrita Ndala, the two were arrested for receiving advantage from Sattar, managing director of a firm, Xaviar Limited, that is subject of ACB’s investigation.
Matemba is a Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Lands.
Questioned, taken to court and granted bail: Suzi- Banda (L) and Matemba
Ndala said Matemba and Suzi-Banda were arrested in relation to the vetting of a procurement contract, reference number MPS/SB/16/04/2021 to supply 350 000 food ration packs worth $7 875 000.
Matemba and Suzi-Banda, who was once Malawi Law Society president, were taken to court yesterday afternoon, where they were released on bail, after being questioned by the bureau earlier.
Lilongwe chief resident magistrate Madalitso Chimwaza granted bail to Matemba after he was charged with one count of corrupt use of official powers contrary to Section 25 (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA).
Magistrate Chimwaza then ordered Matemba, who represented himself, to pay a K500 000 cash bond, produce two traceable and reliable sureties bonded at K2 million each, report to ACB offices once fortnightly, surrender his travelling documents to court and ask for permission whenever he wants to travel outside the country.
On the other hand, Suzi-Banda was granted bail by acting chief resident magistrate for the South Chisomo Msokera after being charged with one count of obtaining an advantage contrary to Section 24(1) of CPA and one count of failure to declare interest contrary to Section 25D (2) (a) of the Act.
He was granted bail after paying cash bond of K800 000, presenting two sureties bonded at K500 000 each noncash and surrendering his travel documents. He was further ordered not to interfere with witnesses and/or further investigations and report to ACB’s office nearest to his place of abode fortnightly.
“The investigations conducted by the Bureau established that Mr. Reyneck Matemba corruptly received $10 000 as an advantage for the vetting process of the food rations contract.
“Mr. John Suzi-Banda received K3 000 000 from Mr. Zuneth Sattar’s agent Zun Cheena to influence Mr. John Suzi-Banda to grant a no-objection for the Malawi Police Service to award the contract to Xaviar Limited,” reads the statement.
In its report sent to President Lazarus Chakwera two months ago, the ACB alleged that Sattar bribed 84 politically-exposed individuals to favour him with public contracts.
Sattar’s several companies also have multi-billion kwacha contracts with different Malawi Government’s ministries, departments and agencies.
Suzi-Banda resigned as PPDA board chairperson last month after Chakwera suspended him on June 21 2022 following an ACB report that implicated him in the alleged corruption scandal.
Matemba left ACB early last year after the President appointed him as Solicitor General and principal secretary for the Ministry of Justice.
Matemba and Suzi-Banda have joined a list of senior public officers arrested by the ACB in the past six months for alleged corruption dealings.
Others include former ministers of Lands and Homeland Security Kezzie Msukwa and Nicholas Dausi respectively, principal secretary for Homeland Security Kennedy Nkhoma and his deputy Patricia Liabuba, former Homeland Security principal secretary Sam Madula, former Inspector General of Police George Kainja and Malawi Police Service legal officer Mwabi Kaluba.