Saulos Klaus Chilima, Malawi’s vice president, has been detained and accused of engaging in corruption, according to the country’s anti-corruption bureau, which announced the arrest and charges on Friday.
When the watchdog first accused Chilima of corruption, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera stripped him of his powers in a national address in June.
The president, who has been waging a war on corruption, asserted that he lacked the constitutional authority to suspend or remove the vice president from office at the time. However, he expressly forbids Chilima from performing his duties.
According to the corruption watchdog, Chilima was taken to court to face to corruption charges.
Chilima’s supporters and the police appeared to be fighting in video from the local media as he was being led into court for the formal reading of the charges.
“I have no comment to make. We will let the court process run its course,” Chilima told reporters outside court after being granted bail, according to media.
The watchdog claimed Chilima received compensation for helping the Malawian government award contracts to Xaviar Ltd and Malachitte FZE, two businesses linked to British entrepreneur Zuneth Sattar.
It stated that it has been looking into Sattar and other public officials in Malawi over claims of embezzling public funds by interfering with the awarding of contracts through the nation’s public procurement system.
“On, [Friday], the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima … on allegation that between March 2021 and October 2021, he received advantage in form of money amounting to US$280,000 (about R4.8m) and other items from Zuneth Sattar as a reward …” the bureau said.
According to a Financial Times report from August, Sattar was being looked into by Malawi’s National Crime Agency (NCA) for allegedly abusing the country’s public procurement system.
The FT reported that he had been cleared of all charges and had maintained his innocence.
A request for comment made on Friday did not receive a prompt response from NCA. Sattar could not be reached for comment by Reuters right away.
Chakwera dissolved his entire cabinet in January of this year after three serving ministers were accused of corruption.