Just a couple of weeks after the newly-appointed Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC), Ms. Colleen Zamba, issued a policy directive stopping public officials from going on international trips without approval, controversial Anti Corruption Bureau director, Martha Chizuma, has packed her bags and flown business class to Vienna for a United Nations summit.
Chizuma, together with three senior officials from her office, flew out last Friday to attend the 13th Session of the United Nations Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Prevention of Corruption also called the “Working Group on Prevention” slated for June 15-17.
Just last week Zamba directed that all government officials should seek approval from OPC when they need to travel for any duties outside the country.
The meeting Chizuma is attending has been convened by the Special Representative and United Nations Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings.
Her entourage from the ACB include Director of Investigations, Daniels Kelly Mponda, Director of Legal and Prosecutions, Chrispin Khunga and Legal Services Manager, Collins Chitsime.
This sort of defiance to Presidential orders raises serious questions on the competence of the ACB boss who by law is supposed to report to the President and Ministry of Justice.
Social observers say her conduct leaves a lot to be desired as she is sending wrong signals on governance and rule of law.
“You can’t have a top officer at the graft-busting body excluding herself from Presidential directives. Whenever the President speaks it becomes irrevocable and every citizen must act as advised. What Chizuma is doing by travelling against the directives is tantamount to gross indiscipline,” bemoaned one Mzuzu University political scientist.
While she has taken personal decisions, other government officials who were also invited to the same event are waiting for approval from the OPC.
These include Director of Public Prosecution Dr. Steven Kayuni, Daniel Daka who is Deputy Director of Tax Investigations at Malawi Revenue Authority, newly-appointed director general at Financial Intelligence Authority, Jean Phillipo, and legal counsel Edwin Mtonga.
Others also on the list are Mabvuto Katemula, First Secretary- Legal Affairs Permanent Mission of Malawi to the United Nations, and Dzikondianthu Malunda who is Senior Assistant Chief State Advocate.
By travelling to Vienna on Business Class she has defied two key directives because government officials are also banned from traveling elite class when on official duty unless otherwise advised by the OPC.
Government is effecting austerity measures to tighten expenditure in view of economic hardships that continue to affect citizens following global uncertainties due to the war in Ukraine.
This is not the first time Chizuma has failed to adhere to guiding principles and directives since she assumed office. At every turn she has chosen to act alone and against the Corrupt Practices Act which is a guiding document of her role.