Malawi president Lazarus Chakwera has decided to strip off his deputy president powers after he was linked to a corruption scandal.
According to reports, the deputy president, Saulos Chilima, is among 53 current and former government officials that were mentioned in a $153 million graft scandal involving government contracts.
Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Board report reveals that the mentioned individuals received money from British-Malawian businessman Zuneth Sattar between 2017 and 2021 in relation to 16 contracts that Malawi Police Service and the Malawi Defence Force awarded to the businessman’s five companies.
Others named in the scandal include the head of police who has since been sacked after he was recorded discussing the deals and kickbacks with Sattar. Chakwera further suspended his chief of staff and the chairman of the country’s procurement directorate.
Malawi’s constitution does not allow the president to sack his vice president since he is an elected official.
“The best I can do for now, which is what I have decided to do, is to withhold from his office any delegated duties while waiting for the bureau to substantiate its allegations against him,” Chakwera said during his address to the nation on the matter.
The disgraced vice president is yet to make a comment about the matter.
Chakwera and Chilima were elected to office during the June 2020 elections. They defeated Peter Mutharika who was the sitting head of state then, on grounds that they would fight corruption.
Speculations about the duo’s strained relationship began long ago for a number of reasons including the president’s move to no longer acknowledge Chilima’s contributions in governamce.
Their relationship is similar to that of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy president William Ruto, who no longer work together with Ruto decrying of his duties being handed over to other government officials