By Iommie Chiwalo
The passiveness of the office of Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has landed him under fire to the extent that human rights organisation Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has asked him to tell Malawians who repaid Affordable Input Program (AIP) funds saying failure to do so he must resign honourably.
In a statement released on May 2, and signed by CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa, says Chakaka Nyirenda must show proof that he recovered the MK750 million meant for the AIP which was paid to a butcher in the United Kingdom(UK).
“We believe we are not asking too much from the AG by urging him to update the nation on the same, because that is what he promised to do in December
last year,” says Namiwa.
In fact the step by CDEDI is just a follow-up in ensuring progress because recently, the Attorney General, in his own words, during an interview with Times Radio, said he was ready to resign if the MK750 million was not recovered in full.
CDEDI Chief has also challenged the AG to take responsibility of the current passport crisis since in a fashion similar to the AIP money recovery story, the AG through the press on February 23, 2023 assured Malawians of seamless production and issuance of passports sadly the situation at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services has worsened and leaves a lot to be desired.
“In view of the above two issues, CDEDI hereby gives the AG seven days to respond accordingly, and notice that we will respond to his failure to do so by conducting vigils at the entrance of his offices at Capital Hill,”
Namiwa says the calls from CDEDI are purely coming in the spirit of transparency and accountability, and in exercise of its watchdog role.
“CDEDI wishes to benefit from provisions of the Access to Information (ATI) Act by holding the AG accountable on this matter of national interest. Surely, Malawians are eager to know how much of the MK750 million has been recovered,” says Namiwa adding that failing which, the AG should, honourably, step down as per his
Nyirenda travelled to Germany to recover part of the money, which was frozen in one of the bank accounts in that country.
The CDEDI Executive Director says it is worrisome that up to date, four months down the line, there is no any communication from the AG’s office on the progress of the matter.
He says there is no need to emphasize that the funds in question were meant to save millions of ultrapoor Malawians from starvation.
“Hence, for this matter cannot be merely wished away. It’s either the AG tells the truth about the scandal, including details and motive of those lawyers said to have repaid part of the money in local currency because the expectation is that every tambala of this hard-earned taxpayer’s money will be recovered,” he said.
Namiwa has also asked for an explanation as to why besides the sacking of Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe and his Deputy Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima, no one has been arrested in connection with this AIP scandal.
AG is yet to respond on his stand on the matter but has confirmed that he has received a letter from CDEDI seeking clarity on the matter.