Malawi flagship online news source, Nyasa Times has named Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mrs Mary Dominica Kachale as its 2015 Person of the Year.
Kachale has been given the prestigious title for notching 15 convictions in the ongoing Cashgate Scandal, and for remaining unintimidated by potential convicts who may probably be trying all they can to avoid jail.
“She is a woman of steel, and I wish Malawi had more of her kind,” commented one of the social commentators Stanley Onjezani Kenani who was amongst readers that Nyasa Times asked to nominate ‘Person of the Year’.
The Nyasa Times which clocks 10 years in 2016 introduced the ‘Person of the Year’ accolade in 2010. The title is awarded to an individual who has influenced the year’s news for either positive or negative reasons and is decided by the editors of the online publication after nomination from its contributors, readers and other stakeholders.
Last year the title went to ‘Malawi Media’ and late journalist Ralph Tenthani for work in informing the masses during the year of elections, playing rightful role as public watchdog and also keeping the nation updated on cashgate scandal.
And the year before that, Nyasa Times named Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito as person of the year because he consistently spoke against bad social, economic and political policies that impact negatively on consumer.
Announcing the 2014 ‘person of the year’, Nyasa Times editorial management said the publication sought nomination from various reputable commentators and analysts to nominate and give reasons.
“Based on the nominations from dozens of analysts, Nyasa Times selected Malawi’s Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs Mary Kachale as title holder of the Persons of the Year accolade,” the online publication said.
Kachale told Nyasa Times after being told of the recognition on Wednesday December 30, 2015 that she was “humbled”.
Said Kachale: “I am so humbled, I am lost for words.”
Malawi’s top prosecutor added: “To be honest, and I am not being religious here, it is true, it is really the Lord’s doing not mine and truly all honour should go to God our father.”
Kachale continued: “It would be an honour and a priviledge for me to accept the recognition that Nyasa Times have chosen to bestow on me. This is truly humbling.”
The ‘Person of the Year’ Kachale has served as Senior Assistant Chief State Advocate in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and holds a B.A. degree (Honours) from the University of Malawi and a Diploma in International Protection of Human Rights from the Institute for Human Rights, Finland.
In 2009, she was awarded an LL.M. in Public International Law at the University College, London; in 2010 she commenced her PhD in law at the same university.
“I was recipient of a Commonwealth Scholarship to pursue a PhD in Nuclear Energy Law (2010-2012) which was discontinued for personal reasons,” said Kachale.
In April 2013 when Kachale was promoted to become Chief Legal Advocate in charge of the Legal Aid Department, she was charged with making preparations for the transition of the Legal Aid Department into an autonomous Legal Aid Bureau, which has since taken place.
Kachale, a wife to High Court judge Chifundo Kachale and mother of three children, is determined in her job as Director of Public Prosecutions.
“The mandate of the DPP is to conduct all criminal prosecutions in the country; one has also got the authority to take over any prosecutions commenced by any agency or authority or even to discontinue the same.
“The DPP works through State Advocates as well as Police Prosecutors (especially in magistrates’ courts across the country); constitutionally the DPP also operates under the general direction of the Attorney General and is answerable to the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament for the performance of her tasks and responsibilities,” she explains.
Kachale told Nyasa Times that the overall in charge of prosecutions in the whole country would be challenging at any given time. However, she pointed out, Cashgate fraud has made her job “more challenging.”
She said: “Criminology studies have shown that one of the main reasons why white collar crime continues to grow is because the criminals know that the inordinately high cost of investigating and prosecuting them prevents many law enforcement agencies from doing so, even in very rich countries.”
Added Kachale: “The fact that in Malawi, for various reasons, cases of public servants involved in the 2010 fraud were never prosecuted to completion might have reinforced the impression locally that our law enforcement agencies lack the wherewithal to competently prosecute Public Servants who meticulously plan, complexly execute and intelligently conceal their embezzlement of public funds.
“Consequently, the toughest part of my current work has been to ensure that in spite of human and financial resource challenges, we nevertheless efficiently and effectively prosecute Cashgate cases so as to demonstrate that our Government has the will and the means to tackle the malady- if not in financial resources, then through the sheer determination of its prosecutors to pursue the matters tenaciously; I must hasten to admit that God has been very gracious in the whole exercise thus far.”
Kachale recalls that in 1999, as a third year law student from Chancellor College University of Malawi, she did three months internship at the Ministry of Justice headquarters in Lilongwe and that experience opened her eyes to what she consider to be one main reason behind Malawi’s lack of development .
“I was shocked by the huge number of cases of theft by public servants. I remember thinking to myself- No wonder Malawi is so poor! How can a country develop if public servants steal public money with such impunity?”
However, Kachale pointed out that due to factors such as low salaries for lawyers in public service, and inadequate financial and technical resources, “the Ministry of Justice has always lacked the capacity to prosecute such cases comprehensively; hence most cases remain uncompleted.”
She said she resolved during her internship to join the Ministry of Justice upon her graduation from Chancellor College.
“My principal objective was that one day, by God’s grace; I might become an instrument for bringing an end to the impunity I observed in the unscrupulous public servants. It was in pursuit of that objective that I joined the Ministry of Justice on 9th April 2001, and have continued to serve in that Ministry to date,” said Kachale.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :