NOCMA case: Chizuma applies for the case adjournment

By Chisomo Phiri

Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma has made an application for adjournment of the case in which former presidential advisor Chris Chaima Banda and others are accused of attempting to influence award of fuel contracts at National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA).

Chizuma said the State witness Helen Buluma is not ready to continue with cross -examination and so is the state.


The case resumed this morning for continuation of cross-examination of the state witness.

“Cross examination is part of the right to fair trial. In choosing fair trial there is also need to balance the interest of the State,” said Chizuma.

She further said the court should consider that Buluma has made herself available before court including today although she is not ready for the cross-examination.

“We understand that the cross-examination is crucial for a fair trial and also need to balance the rights of the complainant, in this case, the state. Following our discussion with our witness, it is clear that we are not going to proceed.

“It is our prayer that as you consider our application for adjournment, you consider that the witness has made herself available to the court,” added Chizuma.

Chizuma also submitted that there have been several applications for adjournments by the defence despite Buluma being available.

She then asked that the matter be adjourned to a date when the witness and State will be ready.

On his part,defence lawyer Wapona Kita said it was difficult for him to respond to the application for adjournment as the State has not explained the reason why Buluma is not ready to be cross-examined.

“The question I am asking myself is; is she sick? I don’t know how I should respond to an application for an adjournment that she is not ready to proceed without reasons,” explained Kita.

Another defence lawyer Khumbo Soko said the witness is trying to run away from cross-examination and should not be allowed to escape.

He said Buluma has to face the heat.

He added that the defence was giving valid reasons for adjournments but ACB is not giving reasons.

Yesterday, Kita threatened that the defence will expose the alleged misconduct of Buluma during her tenure at NOCMA.

He said the former NOCMA Deputy CEO awarded fuel contracts to a supplier that never participated in bidding for fuel supply contracts.

The defence lawyer also told the court how Buluma’s recordings were not fit to be part of the evidence in court as Justice Patrick Chirwa gave a ruling on the issue, as Buluma was in the wrong to have recorded people without their consent.

In contrast, Imran Saidi, the Chief Legal and Prosecution Officer for ACB, emphasized during cross-examination that questioning is commonly framed to unsettle and disorient the witness.

Former Energy Minister Newton Kambala, Chaima Banda, and Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) President Enoch Chihana are facing accusations of influencing fuel supply contracts at NOCMA.

They were arrested by the ACB in August 2021 before releasing them on bail.