Martha Chizuma’s insatiable appetite for fame and her urge to get all the credit for team success has thrown the Cementgate/ MRA TPIN case into disarray whereby the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) has messed up the technicalities of investigations and prosecution.
Communication Malawi Gazette has seen from the office of Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to ACB, Chizuma is being reprimanded by all agencies involved in the case for going solo on matters that needed succinct coordination.
Besides the ACB, other stakeholders handling the case are Malawi Police Service (Fiscal Police), Malawi Revenue Authority, Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) and the DPP.
A meeting involving all these stakeholders on February 11, 2021 agreed that ACB should time and again crosscheck with Fiscal Police and MRA because these two had already made headway with their investigations on the matter.
Chizuma was told point blank on the prosecution strategy that was being undertaken whereby some of the initially accused persons were being earmarked as state witnesses to pin down the ‘big fish’ who are said to have benefitted from the syndicate massively.
To everyone’s surprise Chizuma started another case on TPIN while the rest of the agencies had already taken steps preparing the charge sheet that was read in court.
“The only common denominator is Roza Mbilizi and (Peter) Mukhito as accused persons.The rest of ACB file accused persons are the other agencies’ witnesses,” reads part of the communication.
The complication that has come about because of Chizuma’s carelessness is that Mbilizi and Mukhito have been charged with ‘abuse of office’ in line with the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) while they are also answering similar charges on Penal Code.
There has also been an embarrassment on a case involving Peter Mutharika’s bodyguard, Norman Paulos Chisale, and some MRA managers.
The ACB has Chisale as a state witness while in the Cementgate/TPIN case being handled by the other agencies he is accused person #3. On the other hand the three MRA managers who are witnesses in the case have been labeled as accused persons by the graft-busting body.
“Madam Director, it is impossible to process prosecution in court on both files with this strange and alien approach. There is only one State prosecution Director and the state agencies move in concert not silos. There is no need for competition or an attempt to outsmart each other or torpedo ongoing trials,” DPP Steve Kayuni schools Chizuma in the letter.
All the state agencies are signatories to the Law Enforcement Coordination Strategy which helps them move in sync on all matters of investigations and prosecution.
This publication learns that Chizuma’s ACB has also not been forthcoming to present updates on the TPIN issue, Chisale’s Unexplained Wealth Charge and Preservation Order (Civil Forfeiture) proceedings.
To make matters worse Chizuma and his team have deliberately shunned meetings convened to coordinate on all these matters. In April this year, a meeting convened in Mponela was attended by all the agencies except the ACB, a development that irked the other agencies.
The DPP has since called upon Chizuma to adhere to all written down rules and agreements if the country is to make headway in the fight against corruption.
“We urge your good office to pursue what other law enforcement agencies are currently doing i.e. adherence to the Law Enforcement Coordination Strategy regardless of our independent legal frameworks,” pleads Kayuni.
Despite her social media celebrity status, Chizuma has over time proved to be a stumbling block in the fight against corruption with her haphazard approach that leaves everyone, including directors at ACB, behind.
Malawians are now getting worried if she will win any prominent cases in court during her tenure despite getting all the funding the bureau needs to do its job efficiently.