/ 25 October 2007

Malawi’s electricity chief arrested over graft

Malawi’s anti-corruption agency has arrested the head of the country’s electricity-generating company over allegations of graft, officials said on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) said Kandi Padambo, CEO of the Electricity-Supply Commission of Malawi (Escom), was arrested late on Wednesday in the commercial capital, Blantyre, and would face charges of ”misuse of public office and failure to disclose interest”.

The ACB’s Bright Chimatiro said Padambo, who is in police custody, was expected to be formally charged at a magistrate’s court Thursday, on charges that he misused his office when awarding contracts at the giant parastatal.

Padambo, who was close to former president Bakili Muluzi, has been arrested several times in the past on graft charges, which have been quashed by the courts for lack of evidence.

President Bingu wa Mutharika, an economist-turned-president who took power in 2004 from Muluzi, has pledged wide-ranging economic reforms, including an anti-corruption drive.

He often says graft is ”still rampant” in Malawi, one of Africa’s poorest countries that in 2006 ranked 97th on watchdog Transparency International’s list of 159 most corrupt countries.

Prosecutors have said about $92-million were lost through fraud and corruption from 1994 to 2004, when Muluzi was in power. — Sapa-AFP