The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has questioned the State President Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera’s shocking decision to interdict the Anti-Corruption Bureau Director General, Martha Chizuma.
Dr Chakwera on Wednesday through the Office of the Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Colleen Zamba interdicted the ACB boss indicating that the move has been taken due to what has been described as serious misconduct regarding a case [Martha Chizuma] is answering on a leaked audio that circulated on social media in 2021.
Days ago, Chakwera during his National Address, stood by his decision not to fire the ACB boss saying that he had already forgiven her over a leaked audio in which the ACB chief was heard discussing office matters with an unknown person in a telephone conversation in January last year.
Over the allegations made in that Audio, former Director of Public Prosecutions Steven Kayuni, High Court Judge Simeon Mdeza, businessman Zuneth Sattar’s close associate Ashok Kumar Sreedharan and Frighton Phompho have dragged Chizuma to court.
Martha Chizuma is answering charges of making use of speech calculated to lower the authority of a person before whom a judicial proceeding is being had, in line with Section 113 (d) of the Penal Code.
Zamba said the second charge that Chizuma is answering is with regards to making use of speech capable of prejudicing a person against a party to judicial proceedings, in line with Section 113 (d) of the Penal Code.
“Please note that the above allegations constitute serious misconduct of a public officer and an Anti- Corruption Bureau official in terms of Section 498 of the Corrupt Practices (Amendment) Act 2004, Anti-Corruption Bureau Standing Order Numbers D/18 (2) and D/18 (9): Sections 4 (4.5), 6 (6.1), 6 (6.3) and 14 (14.1) of Code of Conduct and Ethical Behaviour of the Anti- Corruption Bureau, Malawi Public Service Regulations (MPSR) 1:201 (6), 1 201 (11),1.201 (17) and 1 201 (19) and Contract Clause Articles I and II of your employment contract of 1 June 2021.
“In view of this, and in accordance with the Malawi Public Service Commission Regulation 42 (3) as read with Regulation 40, you are interdicted from exercising the powers and functions of your office as Director of the Anti- Corruption Bureau (Grade 1/C) effective 31 January 2023, with full pay,” reads the letter to Chizuma in part.
Zamba added that following the interdiction, Chizuma shall cease to exercise any powers and functions of her office and shall not leave Malawi without written permission and the interdiction shall remain there until the conclusion of Martha’s criminal proceedings.
In reaction to the interdiction, Malawi Law Society President Patrick Mpaka describes the letter as a serious misguided as it does not make reference to the Act nor the reason under the Act.
“In Section 6(2) and (3), [the law] provides that the power to suspend or remove the ACB DG is in the President and the only reason is that it must be desirable in the public interest so to do.
“The letter in circulation does not make reference to the Act nor the reason under the Act. It should be doubtful if it has been authorised by the only authority that can suspend the ACB DG because, ordinarily, the President should know that the situation is well guided by the Corrupt Practices Act and I think the President understands this, if you listened to his speech of 24 January 2022,” Mpaka said via the Times Group.