Malawi Government Chief legal advisor, Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has sternly warned public officers, particularly from the graft-fighting agency, ACB, that it is a jailable criminal offence to leak official confidential documents and that anyone found doing so will face the law.
“It is a criminal offence public officers to be sharing sensitive, confidential and official documents with people not authorised to access such information.
“I going to act and I will make sure that the perpetrator faces the law and that justice is served on them,” he warned.
Attorney General, Nyirenda issued the warning in an exclusive with Nyasa Times amid fresh calls for public officers, especially those in the justice delivery sector, to always act professional, ethical and in line with the law.
Chakaka Nyirenda’s remarks comes hot on the wheels following a leak of an official confidential document to the media which contains the Attorney General’s legal opinion to the graft bursting body, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director Martha Chizuma on Zuneth Sattar’s issue.
Said Chakaka Nyirenda: “It is wrong, unprofessional and unethical. It is also a criminal offence under the Oath of the Secrecy Regulations (OSR) to release confidential information.
“Those who aid and abet release of the confidential information will be dealt with in accordance with the law.”
Nyirenda expressed concern over ACB’s unprofessional conduct over the leaking of a sensitive, confidential and official communication to the media saying behaviour is criminal, unethical and unprofessional.
“It has to be understood that Mr. Zuneth Sattar’s issue has generated a lot of interest from the public, over and above, being sensitive.
“Whilst we espouse free speech tenets and rights of the Press, it is irresponsible to leak my legal opinion on a sensitive matter like this one. I take great exception and I will be taking legal steps against whoever is involved in this kind of conduct,” fumed Chakaka Nyirenda.
As the head of the Malawi bar, Chakaka Nyirenda said, he gives legal opinions to many Government entities and that there has never been such a miscarriage as seen with the ACB one.
He said: “My office terminated all the contracts on 8th January, 2022 owned by or connected with Mr. Zuneith Sattar based on convenience and public interest pursuant to section 46(c) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act, 2017.”
Nyirenda said the statement was clear in spirit and form that any payment will have to comply with the law.
“The legal opinion to ACB, whose document has been leaked, is consistent with the statement that I earlier issued when terminating the contracts.
“Therefore, it is incorrect to suggest that in public my office terminated the contract but in private asked Police to pay, the legal opinion to ACB implies that Sattar can only be paid for the water cannons that he supplied successfully and Malawi Police Service took delivery of the same,” Chakaka Nyirenda said.
He said his opinion is within law and in line with the terms of the contract signed, but anything coming after termination of the contract is what can be regarded as illegal.
The Attorney General’s leaked document has the ACB’s official stamp and this can only mean that the document has been leaked from the corruption-fighting state crime agency.
Efforts to talk to ACB’s Director General, Martha Chizuma proved futile as she did not pick up her calls.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :