Members of parliament have passed a motion to amend Section 5 (1) of the corrupt practices act that will see the director and deputy director of Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) being appointed by the Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of parliament based on merit and through an open recruitment process.
Currently, head of anti-corruption watchdog is appointed by the Head of State and approved by parliament.
Moving a private members motion on Thursday in parliament, Lilongwe South West Constituency, Louis Peter Chankhwantha, said the appointment process should be transparent and that the ACB Czar should be answerable to parliament to avoid political patronage at the helm of fighting corruption.
Joseph Njobvuyalema, MP for Lilongwe Mapuyu south supporting the motion said the current provision where the President appoints ACB boss is a mockery to its independence.
He said the current set up which gives power to the President to appoint and fire ACB director and his Deputy defeats the spirit of fighting corruption as the holder of the office at ACB take orders from the president or his loyalists as such their independence is compromised.
“By giving the president absolute powers, it is heavily politicising the office of ACB. The Appointment should not be left in the hands of a politician whose orders are dully influenced by the presidency. T
The ACB is in the office at the pleasure of the President and we cannot continue to act like that on this country,” said Chakawantha.
Chankhwantha then urged the house to amend the Act and give the power to appoint ACB director and its deputy in the hands of Public Appointments Committee of parliament to be advertise and do employ someone on merit.
He also said the amended act seeks to have the ACB director and deputy director to be reporting to the committee of parliament not to one individual in this case the President.
Minister of Justice and constitutional affasir , Samuel Tembenu said ACB belongs to the Executive arm of government and removing the President’s powers to appoint its director would be “ travesty of the doctrine of separation [of power].”
He argued that the powers of the President to appoint were entrenched in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi.
After a heated debate from both sides of the house with government side vehemently speaking against the motion, the house voted.
The government side asked for vote by name calling as they felt the voice group vote they won.
The voting was not without drama as government side that included independent member of parliament all voted in support of the motion with government deputy chief whip, minister of sports , Grace Chiumia voting “yes” before she was booed by her own government colleagues and she stood for correction saying it was meant to say “no” to the vote.
Some of the notable members of parliament that voted for the motion included Mzimba Hora member of parliament Reverend Christopher Mzomera Ngwira, Mzimba South West Harry Mkandawire, Chikhwawa North, Harry Thomson, United Democratic Front member of parliament Lucius Banda and the opposition won with 75 votes , absentees 51 and others who said no plus abstain from voting were totalling at 67 votes.
In his winding up remarks , Chankhwantha who moved the motion thanked members of parliament for discussing the motion and vote in support of it saying it’s about time the country at 52 years of independence should walk the talk and fight corruption without fear or favour and not the selective prosecution currently taking place.
Chankhwantha said it was disappointing to see some members of parliament voting against the bill just to support certain individuals, their leaders and to serve ministerial positions which is against their conscious.
He said it was worrisome that even other members from Muslim community in the house were against the motion when their colleague, Issa Njaunju who worked at ACB was murdered allegedly by regime thugs in the course of the work .
The motion which has passed now will see legal committee of the house to bring the relevant amended act to other legal entities like Malawi Law Society and others before it is brought to cabinet and passed into law in parliament.
The current (ACB) director is Lucas Kondowe . President Peter Mutharika appointed Kondowe as ACB boss, replacing Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judge Rezine Mzikamanda on October 8 2014.
Meanwhile, MP for Nkhatabay central Ralph Mhone, a lawyer by profession, said the next office that parliament should give independence is that of Auditor General.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :