Malawi has arrested its Vice President Saulos Chilima and charged him with graft over a bribery scandal involving a British-Malawian businessman, the country’s anti-corruption watchdog said.
The president’s deputy – who has been stripped of his powers – has been charged with several counts of corruption and taking bribes to influence government contracts, the Anti-Corruption Bureau said.
“He received advantage in the form of money amounting to $280,000 and other items from (British-Malawian businessman) Zuneth Sattar,” for the latter’s companies to be awarded Malawi government contracts, ACB spokeswoman, Egrita Mdala, said in a statement.
Chilima was due to appear in court on Friday afternoon. Officials and supporters from his United Transformation Movement party had already gathered outside in support.
President Lazarus Chakwera stripped Chilima of his powers in June when details of the alleged graft first emerged.
According to Malawi’s constitution, the president could not suspend or remove Chilima because he was an elected official.
Several ministers and former ministers have already been arrested in connection with the case, in which 53 public officials have been accused of receiving money from Sattar between March and October 2021.
Chilima partnered with Chakwera to win the 2020 presidential election re-run, sweeping to victory on an anti-corruption platform.
He had also joined Chakwera in challenging fraudulent elections in 2019, which led to a court-sanctioned poll the following year in which Chakwera defeated former leader Peter Mutharika.