Martha Chizuma’s scorecard at Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) cannot only be judged on the number of arrests the bureau makes. What matters thereafter is how she proceeds with the court cases.
Since she was appointed in April 2021, it has become clear that the ACB has stopped prosecuting cases successfully as compared to previous reigns of Reneck Matemba and others before him.
Sentiments from inside the bureau are that Chizuma has failed on a job she badly wanted when she left the Office of the Ombudsman.
“At this stage, her yardstick of success may not necessarily be a conviction or an acquittal. Chizuma has even failed to reach plea stages in most of the cases underway. That means she hasn’t even reached a point where the court finds the accused with a case to answer. This should tell you that the ACB director is failing on the job,” said the source.
However, Malawians are surprised of Chizuma’s failure to perform taking into account the level of support she is receiving from the current administration.
She is probably the best funded director to date.
Government has increased funding to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) over the past two years to ensure that the fight against the vice is won at all levels.
When President Lazarus Chakwera came to power in 2020, staffing levels at the graft-busting body was at 150 against a full complement of 287. That level has increased to 225 now.
The bureau’s budget has risen to K6.3 billion this year from K4.3 billion two years ago, representing slightly over 50% upward adjustment. With this level of support, the ACB is now investigating over 300 cases but with very minimal output to show for it.
Not long ago, Treasury also gave the bureau K400 million for it to hire competent lawyers from private practice for high profile corruption cases.
All this support does not tally with what is happening on the ground.
The only record Chizuma can hold on to is the number of arrests taken since she assumed office.
Malawians are now questioning whether they made the right choices to trust Chizuma with one of the most critical offices on the land.