23 November 2017
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Friday, 06 October 2017 15:26

Phalombe elects suspect as Council Chairperson

Written by  Grecium Gama
Mawere being sworn in by First Grade Magistrate Damson Banda who is also handling his court case Mawere being sworn in by First Grade Magistrate Damson Banda who is also handling his court case

Phalombe, October 6, 2017: Phalombe District Council on Friday elected Councilor Kalepa Mawere who is answering criminal charges at the First Grade Magistrate’s Court in the district to be Chairperson of the Council.

The new Chairperson was arrested late 2015 on suspicion that he stole some bags of cement meant for the construction of an office building at Saidi Police Unit, while already serving as Ward Councilor for Khongoloni Ward.

Construction of the office block has since stalled to date.

According to court records, Mawere was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit a felony and theft by public servant which are contrary to sections 404 and 278 of the penal code respectively.

Asked whether it was right for the Council to elect an accused person to be Chairperson of the Council, District Commissioner (DC) for Phalombe, Harry Phiri said in his personal opinion, he saw that there was nothing barring the Councillor as he was only accused and not yet convicted.

The DC went on to say that it was up to his fellow Councillors and Members of Parliament (MP) who were voting to stop him from contesting or not elect him if they saw that he had a problem.

On his part, Mawere said Councillors had right to vote for him although he was answering some charges in court but he was still innocent until proven guilty.

Moreover, he said his case at the court had stalled because there was lack of evidence to support the accusations leveled against him.

Commenting on the development, concerned citizen and renowned business person in the district, Kingsley Mpulula, said it was not right for the Council to put the Chairmanship in the hands of a person suspected to have committed an offense relating to his job as a Councilor.

“Right now he is not cleared of his accusations so our worry is what will happen if shortly, the court convicts him and sentences him? My thinking is that he should have controlled his greed for the high office and let others contest,” he pointed out.

He faulted the Council for the move saying they cannot give such a high position to a person who is answering serious criminal charges.

Currently, the accused has already been sworn in as Chairperson of Phalombe District Council by First Grade Magistrate, Damson Banda who is also handling his criminal case.

If found guilty, Mawere is liable to not less than seven years imprisonment on the charge of theft and not less than five years imprisonment on the second count of conspiracy to commit a felony.

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