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19 Nov 2004 00:00
Former Malawian minister of sports and culture Philip Bwanali has been arrested on allegations that he swindled 11,5-million kwacha (about R640 000) meant for sports development in the country. Bwanali was arrested last Saturday.
He is the fifth senior member of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) to be arrested on corruption charges.
The arrest took place barely two days after President Bingu wa Mutharika told a gathering of students and academia at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College in Zomba that “there will be no peace for those who steal public funds”.
Some UDF members have accused the administration of scaring people and dividing the ruling party.
“I am surprised to hear some people saying that I am persecuting them. I am not ... They should not expect to steal money and get away with it,” Mutharika said.
He said stamping out corruption was one of his five pillars of economic growth for Malawi.
“Corruption is an enemy of the nation, and those who are corrupt are enemies of our country,” he said. “For the past two years, we have been shouting about the evils of corruption, of diverting development funds ... but now we have started acting against corrupt individuals.”
The Ministry of Sports and Culture set up a trust, during the reign of former head of state Bakili Muluzi, to fund sports development in primary and secondary schools. But reports published in the local media show that the money was withdrawn, with the knowledge of the then minister, but its use “was not properly explained by authorities”.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau then started investigating the matter. Bwanali is quoted by Malawian media as saying he was aware of the withdrawal, but that the money was used to buy sports equipment.
He denied having embezzled the money.
Other UDF members currently answering corruption charges are former minister of finance Friday Jumbe, UDF deputy director of research and former CE of state-run Shire Buslines Humphrey Mvula, and former minister of local government Salim Bugas.
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