/ 9 April 2008

Malawi jails former minister for corruption

A court in Malawi handed down a six-year prison sentence on Tuesday to a former minister over corruption charges dating back 14 years, officials said.

Former education minister Sam Mpasu stood accused of having received kickbacks for awarding a British company a deal to provide Malawi with millions of notebooks and pencils.

”It was clear that Mpasu cut corners to illegally award a contract to the British firm,” said magistrate Chifundo Kachale.

”He [Mpasu] and others benefited from the irregular deal,” Kachale told a packed courtroom in the administrative capital, Lilongwe.

The materials were meant for a free primary-school programme introduced in 1994 by the corrupt administration of former president Bakili Muluzi, which ended in 2004.

Court officials said that Mpasu, who once served as the country’s parliamentary speaker and was an outspoken aide of Muluzi’s, smiled and waved as he was led to a police vehicle by prison guards.

”I am suffering for bringing free primary-school education to Malawi,” a court clerk said he heard him shouting. — Sapa-AFP