Malawian mayor jailed for theft

The mayor of Malawi's commercial capital, Blantyre, has been jailed for three years for theft from the State and corruption…

John Chikakwiya, of the ruling United Democratic Front party, was jailed on 18 April by a magistrate court in Blantyre, for stealing a donation of $4,000 given by a state firm to maintain city roads.
Chikakwiya was charged with two counts, theft by a person employed in the public service and abuse of office.

Over 20 heavily armed police officers eagerly waited outside the courtroom for Chikakwiya.

Other people milled around outside the court room as the magistrate passed his judgement.

Chikakwiya appeared calm throughout the ruling, but signs of distress and grief were clearly visible on his face as the judgement neared its climax.

Magistrate Kadwa said the position the mayor held at the assembly was very senior and required exemplary conduct.

Kadwa said the evidence clearly showed Chikakwiya had stolen the $4,000, which he had solicited from Bakhresa Milling Company for a road project in the city.

Chikakwiya was sentenced to 38 months imprisonment with hard labour, although he is expected to appeal against the decision.

Meanwhile Malawi's former colonial master, Britain, has given Malawi a grant of £60m and asked the African nation to show more action in its corruption drive.

A spokesperson from the British High Commission commended Malawi’s zero tolerance on corruption policy, but went on to say they want to see “more action and focus to show that government is committed.”

The aggressive fight against corruption has been President Mutharika’s most important political move in his 11-month rule, which helped him win respect from his pre-election critics.

The zero tolerance for corruption policy has seen the arrest of senior officials in the then ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), which sponsored him to power.

Two top government officials facing corruption charges are Friday Jumbe, the former finance minister and Humphrey Mvula, a senior aide to former President Bakili Muluzi.

Mutharika recently broke away from UDF, which he claimed were detracting him from his anti-corruption drive, and formed his own Democratic Progressive Party.

Mutharika, a former economist who worked for the World Bank, has vowed he will not tolerate any form of corruption under his leadership.