"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Malawi ex-minister charged over 14-year-old corruption allegation

BLANTYRE (AFP) — A former Malawian minister who was also a top aide to retired President Bakili Muluzi has finally been charged with three counts of abuse of office dating back 14 years, court officials said Friday.

Former education minister Sam Mpasu had a case to answer and should "defend himself" on November 27 said a spokesman for the magistrates' court in the capital Lilongwe.

He is accused of having flouted government procedures in procuring millions of notebooks and pencils from a British firm.

Mpasu, who survived initial corruption probes on the same matter, is suspected of having received kickbacks in return for awarding the tender to the company.

The materials were meant for a free primary school programme introduced in 1994 by the Muluzi administration.

A former speaker of parliament, Mpasu has always denied any wrong-doing.

He says he used his powers as minister to fast-track the procurement of the notebooks and teaching aids to coincide with the introduction of free primary school education.

The public prosecutions office in the poor southern African nation has said about 92 million dollars (64 million euros) was lost through fraud and corruption from 1994 to 2004, when Muluzi was in power.

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