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Saturday, April 20, 2024

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    How time flies. A year ago, Martha Chizuma was the darling to almost everyone such that her appointment as the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) was received with wild celebrations across the country. Chizuma was the people’s choice and President Chakwera’s decision to appoint her to that crucial position was affirmed by popular approval.

    Riding on that popularity and due to public pressure, it was easy for the Public Appointment Committee (PAC) to confirm the appointment after she was rejected the first time. Chizuma had an impeccable pedigree during her time as the Ombudswoman such that when the post of the Director General at ACB fell vacant, there was no other name which was well spoken than hers and she was clear favourite for the position.

    By far Chizuma has been the most supported head of ACB than any of her predecessors. It is during her tenure when we have seen an exponential increase in staff allocation. It is also during her tenure when the ACB has been well funded but a year on after her appointment she is yet to live up to the expectations. If anything, the trust and the goodwill she had from Malawians a year ago is waning really fast such that some people have started calling for her removal.

    She may also survive because patient enough and she may just give her the benefit of doubt. Beside that there may be a consideration from the appointing authority as he is pioneer of the promotion of women as we have seen in the recent time where women have been appointed in influential positions.

    But Chizuma’s conduct and performance may just be damaging to other women in the country who are relishing at an opportunity to be appointed in these positions. As feminists would say that gender should not be construed as being male or female but should be understood in the context of prepositions.

    At the rate at which the choruses of her removal are growing President Chakwera may not have any choice but to remove her and post her where her services will be needed most. I know there will be a backlash if she will be removed but removing her will be good for her reputation because as things stand, people are realizing that she is immature to handle the pressure of that demanding office and it will be good for the progress of the war on graft. Corruption cannot be won on face value or sentiments.

    The most unfortunate thing about Chizuma is that she does not want to cooperate, she thinks she is beyond reproach. Because of her perceived indispensability she has been in conflict with both the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) office which are supposed to check each other for the effective discharge of duties within their parameter as mandated by law.

    Over time she has been behaving as a ‘’Jack of all trades’’ she wants to assume role of the DPP, the Attorney General and even a judge a thing which has brought disharmony in the trinity; her office, the office of the Attorney General and the office off the DPP.

    Civil society organizations have previously gone on the street to force Chizuma to resign for incompetence

    It appears that the ACB has been working in isolation for a long time, a development which has worried the Director of Public Prosecution to the extent of writing Chizuma’s office asking for her cooperation in the fight against cooperation. In the letter bemoaned Chizuma’s tendency of not showing up at crucial meetings requiring the involvement of stakeholders in the fight against corruption to map the way forward on how to handle different cases.

    The letter reads: “Madam Director, an opportunity to salvage the situation was missed by your good office when an invitation to attend the pre-trial TPIN/Cement gate meeting in Mponela was turned down by your good office. All the mentioned law enforcement agencies (FIA,DPP,MRA, MPS, FISCA)L were in attendance. Your good office clearly excused yourself and decided to pursue what termed “your own angle: of the TPIN trial.”

    The leaking of any confidential documents of these nature smacks some act of irresponsibility and negligence on the part of those offices but the leakage of this particular letter will be forgiven as it is a blessing in disguise as the country now knows what has been going on between the office of the ACB and the DPP.

    All along there have been rumours that the Director of Public Prosecution has been the one who has been derailing the progress of some cases for his refusal to grant the ACB consent to proceed with some cases. Kayuni is so professional, he does not rush to the social media matters related to his works and people believed what Chizuma has been saying about Kayuni as the gospel truth. We all fell for Chizuma’s blackmail by concluding that Kayuni is the reason the ACB is failing to make progress on some corruption cases.

    Now as learned as Kayuni is, to come out and say that the fight against corruption cannot be won by a single entity or person, it means he understands the complex nature of the work before those offices. In the letter, Kayuni asked Chizuma to cooperate for the sake of progress of the war against graft.

    It reads: “No single state agency can win a fight against criminality. It is always a joint effort regardless of independent working arena. With the way ACB has conducted itself lately, it is clear Madam Director, our minds and acts are at cross-purpose here.”

    We now know that there is power struggle between those two offices but we certainly know who the instigator is. We know that Chizuma wants to usurp powers from the DPP. We are also aware that Chizuma wants to exercise powers she does not have and she is not willing to respect the boundaries between her office and other equally important agencies in the fight against criminality including corruption.

    But at the end of the day, the more the scuffle between those offices continue, the more corrupt individuals will run loose and the more corruption will become difficult to contain. At the end as they say when two elephants are fighting it is the grass which suffers.



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